Throw the records out the window because the Sandy Creek and Fayette County boys played like a pair of heavyweights on Saturday night. The Patriots came into the night with a much better record on paper, but they were forced to withstand blow after blow to pull out a 72-63 win.
“Playing coach (Andre) Flynn is really such a joy because his team plays with so much passion,” said Sandy Creek coach Willie Reese. “When we play over here, it’s tough beating these guys. This is another quality win. We’re building a little bit towards the playoffs, so that’s what we want.”
The Patriots were tested by a fast-rising team and came out on top. It’s the kind of momentum they need. The matchup was everything the spectators could hope for, too. It wasn’t until the last couple minutes when the Patriots were able to pull away at all with key rebounds and clutch free throws.
“The guys are learning how to play in front of a big crowd,” said Reese. “They need to play under control, get stops, get tough rebounds, and hang onto the ball.”
The three ball was the name of the game early. Javon Jackson, Christian Turner, and Elias Harden rained bombs for the Patriots, while Robert Easterwood sparked the Tigers with a pair of first quarter treys. Kenny Lewis and Jamon Bivens pushed Fayette to a 19-16 lead after one frame.
Nick Egona staked the Tigers to a five-point lead with a putback before Turner heated up. His ability to get to the rim, coupled with his long range shot, pulled the Patriots back in front. AJ Freeman added to the lead with a trey, but Lewis sank his own to keep Fayette within 35-33 at halftime.
Easterwood maintained his hot hand with two more bombs as the lead swung back and forth in the third. Bivens and Harden went toe to toe, with Bivens draining a pair of threes and Harden hitting a trey and throwing down a fast break dunk, as the Tigers advantage stood at 52-51 going into the fourth.
Harden gave the Patriots the lead back on another three-pointer to start the fourth. Easterwood responded with his own and the swings continued. A Januari Smith fadeaway made it a three-point Creek lead, but big buckets from Bivens and Lewis gave the Tigers a 63-62 advantage.
From there, it was all Sandy Creek. Harden drained a three for the lead, then padded it with another basket. The Patriots pounded the glass as the Tigers tried to get back in it in the last minute, but nothing else fell for Fayette.
Elias Harden led the Patriots in scoring with 22 points. Evan Jester was big on both ends with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Christian Turner tallied 17 points.
Kenny Lewis paced the Tigers with 19 points and five assists. Robert Easterwood and Jamon Bivens each dropped 15 points.
The Fayette County Lady Tigers were clicking on all cylinders in their 90-24 win over Sandy Creek.
“We came out pretty hot tonight,” said coach John Strickland. “Our shots were falling. When we’re on, we’re on, and the lid was off of it tonight.”
Sandy Creek gave them a good push early, but the Tigers were able to wear them down as the game went on.
“We respect every opponent, so we have to come out and play. We’ve been up and down this season, but I thought the girls came out and played really hard,” said Strickland. “We want to peak at the right time. It’s a tough region so night in and night out you’ve got to play. I feel pretty good heading into the region tournament.”
The Patriots were able to trade baskets in the early stages. Bolton Logan hit a jumper to keep within two points early, but the Tigers would finish the first quarter on a 10-1 run. Eventually, Fayette’s ability to hit from long range and suffocate on the defensive end did in the Patriots. By halftime, their deficit had ballooned out of reach to 42-15.
Fayette got bombs from much of their roster with Christa Jones, Darryl Langford, Whitney Williams, and Kayla Smith hitting threes.
With the game under control, some fresh faces got a chance to contribute, and they did not disappoint. Both Asia Green and Maegan Barkley provided a nice spark off the bench as the Tiger offense kept rolling. Adayah Glymph finished the night’s scoring with a nice steal and coast-to-coast layup.
Kayla Smith led the way with a monster night, piling up 34 points, including half a dozen treys. Christa Jones added 12 points, and Maegan Barkley finished with nine points with Sade Harper tallying eight.
Amara Owoh and Taylor Borum both scored in the final frame for Sandy Creek, but the damage was already done. Briana Baitey paced the Patriot offense with 13 points.