Bears win again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 20, 2004

AHOSKIE – Of all the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic championship plaques sitting in the Hertford County High School trophy case, Bears skipper Charles Simmons said he has a special spot for the latest addition to that collection.

So, after beating rival Bertie, 82-65, here Wednesday night to win the 2005 Classic, what makes this title better than the rest? Because, for the Bears, it’s been a long time coming.

Hertford County, winless in four straight title games, including a heartbreaking 64-62 loss on a last-second shot by Bertie last year, were all smiles on Wednesday in front of a packed house at the HCHS gym where the Bears laid their hands on their first Classic championship since 2000.

&uot;It feels good to be the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic champions again,&uot; Simmons said of a title that his Bears have now won on 10 occasions of this 15-year-old event.

But, as it always seems to be, nothing comes easy for the Bears when they meet their longtime rivals.

Despite building a 15-point, first quarter lead, the Bears went cold from the field. HCHS was a dismal 2-of-15 from the floor in the second quarter and began the third period with three consecutive misfires from the field.

That swung the door open for a Bertie comeback and the Falcons did not disappoint their fans. Coach Calvin Moore’s club began chipping away at the HCHS lead – first with a 12-2 run to close the first half, an offensive spurt fueled by a deuce and a trey from Desmond Williams plus a pair of Frank Lee baskets.

Trailing 36-29 at halftime, Bertie kept battling to open the second half. There, a hoop and free throw from All-Tournament selection Kent Bazemore, who led all scorers with 27 points, and a Brandon Brown trifecta got Bertie as close as one (36-35) at the 6:40 mark of the third quarter.

But the Bears were just too athletic and just too quick and Bertie didn’t have enough gas left in their collective tanks to continue their comeback.

HCHS proceeded to hit their next four shots, including back-to-back treys from Antonio Branch who came in off the bench to collect 15 points as well as the Classic’s MVP plaque.

The Bears, highlighted by a pair of Lamarcus Bond hoops, had another stretch of four straight baskets later in the quarter to help HCHS gain a 59-41 edge entering the final eight minutes of action.

By the time All-Tournament pick Buck Jenkins buried a trey to open the fourth quarter followed by baskets from Lamar Monger and Branch, the Bears were comfortably ahead, 66-43, a fact that allowed Simmons to substitute freely down the stretch.

Monger, who led HCHS with 19 points, was also named All-Tournament, as was teammate Tydreke Powell who scored only six points but was a force off the glass where he collected a game-high 13 rebounds.

&uot;We couldn’t match their speed,&uot; Moore said following the game. &uot;We knew we couldn’t get in a running game with them. We slowed the pace down and were able to get within one point there in the third quarter, but we couldn’t finish.&uot;

The Bears came out of the locker room and sent a quick message that they weren’t about to settle for another second-place trophy.

Led by three baskets by Monger, two trifectas from Wayne Pryor and a pair of Powell deuces, HCHS hit seven of their first eight shots en route to an 18-10 lead.

With baskets from four different players (Monger, Branch, Marcus Burnell and Chris Mizelle), HCHS closed the first quarter on an 8-0 run to build a 30-15 lead.

&uot;We did a good job in the first quarter running our transition break and making good decisions,&uot; said Simmons whose club remains unbeaten at 11-0. &uot;After withstanding their run, we got back to doing a better job of running our sets and play solid on the defensive end.&uot;

Hertford Co. (82)

Lamar Monger – 19, Antonio Branch – 15, Buck Jenkins – 12, Wayne Pryor – 10, Bond – 7, Powell – 6, Mizelle – 5, Burnell – 3, Bean – 2, Henneghan – 2, Downing – 1.

FG: 28-of-70 (3-pointers: 7-of-20). FT: 19-of-29. Turnovers: 13. Rebounds: 41 (Powell – 13, Burnell – 6, Bond – 5).

Bertie (65)

Kent Bazemore – 27, Desmond Williams – 10, Lee – 8, J. Bazemore – 4, Bond – 3, Brown – 3, Holley – 3, Jackson – 3, Gilliam – 2, Lucas – 1, Wesson – 1.

FG: 23-of-62 (3-pointers: 4-of-13). FT: 15-of-30. Turnovers: 16. Rebounds: 27 (Bazemore – 11, Williams – 5).