Hunt runs past Southern in MLK Classic
The Southern Spartans surrendered nine straight points to open the second quarter Saturday night and never recovered, falling to Wilson Hunt 69-48 in one of five games played at the MLK Holiday Classic at Riverside High School.
“We started pretty good, but (Daniel Westbrook) hit some big (3-pointers) and we checked out (defensively) for about three minutes,” Southern coach Kendrick Hall said.
Southern led early (15-11) on a 3-pointer by Amari Hamilton, who had a game-high 18 points, and was tied at 17 after the first period on a late layup by Hamilton. Hunt kept pace behind a pair of 3-pointers from Keenon Tabron and a third by Westbrook, the game’s MVP.
Southern did it without much help from 6-7 post starter Isaiah Maurice, their primary defensive weapon against the 6-9 Westbrook. Maurice picked up two fouls in the first 2:05 of the game and sat out until the 5:40 mark of the second quarter. Maurice was held scoreless on the night but led Southern with five rebounds.
Hunt’s dagger found its mark at the start of the second quarter. With Warriors’ coach Dwight Taylor loudly instructing his players during the break to “take what they give you,” the Warriors did just that.
Four different players connected for Hunt — a pair of layups, a jumper and Westbrook for a 3-pointer — and the defense held Southern scoreless for 3:16 as the Warriors went up by nine. A late 3-pointer by Hamilton cut the halftime margin to 30-24.
Coming out of halftime, Hunt again scored nine straight to up the lead to 15. Southern made only 3 of 8 from the line in the period and trailed 46-32 entering the fourth quarter.
The Spartans did give their fans a faint glimmer of hope early in the fourth quarter, riding a pair of steals by Shamiek Wilson (14 points, four steals) including a 3-point play when Wilson stole the ball with 5:06 to go, scored on a layup and was fouled.
His free throw cut the lead to eight at 50-42, but that was as close as Southern (7-9) would get against their Big East 3-A Conference opponent.
Hunt hit 10 of 18 from the line in the final period, and Southern managed only a free throw by Marvin Tillman and buckets by Wilson and Hamilton in the final five minutes.
“On the plus side, we’ll get back into the PAC-6 next week, and it was good to get out and play someone outside the conference today,” Hall said.
NOTES — Westbrook, a big man with a soft touch outside, had game highs of seven rebounds and six blocked shots and tied teammates Justin Jefferson (14 points) and Dwanya Sutton for a game-best four assists. ... Damon Harge, a 5-5 seventh grade transfer from Christian Faith Center Academy in Creedmoor, played extensively but did not score for North Raleigh Christian Academy in a 60-59 loss to Cary Panther Creek in the game preceding Southern-Hunt. ... The NRCA game had a classic ending as NRCA’s Jalen Jones hit a 3-pointer and was fouled with 22.3 seconds left with his team down by four. Jones missed the free throw but made a layup and was fouled with 9.6 ticks left to give NRCA a 59-58 lead. Again Jones missed the free throw, and it proved decisive as Panther Creek freshman Akeem Pate scored with three seconds left to win it 60-59.
Hunt 69, Southern 48
SOUTHERN — Vince Phillips 4, Tyran Cameron 5, Christian Joy 2, Shamiek Wilson 14, Marvin Tillman 1, Amari Hamilton 18, Jarrick Richmond 2, Ben Johnson 2.
HUNT — Jaylen Gilliam 4, Keenon Tabron 13, Dwanya Sutton 2, Isaiah White 7, Daniel Westbrook 13, Travon Davis 3, Justin Jefferson 14, Javis Neal-Hill 4, Dexter Wright 6, Samad Jones 3.
3-point FG—Southern 3 (Hamilton 2, Cameron), Hunt 6 (Westbrook 2, Tabron 2, Jones, White). Blocked shots—Southern 7 (Joy 4), Hunt 9 (Westbrook 6). Rebounds—Southern 36 (Maurice 5), Hunt 38 (Westbrook 7). Steals—Southern 7 (Wilson 4), Hunt 7 (Jefferson 2, Tabron 2). Assists—Southern 4 (Richmond, Wilson, Phillips, Cameron), Hunt 18 (Jefferson 4, Westbrook 4, Sutton 4). Turnovers—Southern 16 (Phillips 4), Hunt 17 (Tabron 5).
Records—Southern 7-9, Hunt 9-3.