Bears retake the point

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 24, 2007

AHOSKIE – The Bears are back at the point.

After struggling defensively in a 90-82 loss to Northeastern High School earlier this season, the Bears had been in second place in the conference.

Tuesday night, the Bears went back to the head of the pack, knocking off Northeastern 59-56 and, in the process, retaking the lead in the Northeastern Coastal Conference.

“I was pleased with our intensity tonight,” Hertford County coach Charles Simmons said. “We fought hard on defense and offense.”

While the Bears celebrated win number 16 on the season, the issue was in doubt until the end of the contest.

Free throws by Antonio Branch and Patrick Downing gave Hertford County a 59-56 lead with 15 seconds to play, but the Eagles had the final possession. It was then the HCHS defense really stepped up as they forced a missed three-pointer in the final seconds to preserve the win.

“We were focused in the last 25 seconds,” Simmons said. “That focus helped us get the defensive stop we had to have.”

The battle of the two top teams in the league lived up to its hype as HCHS pulled out to an early 13-6 lead only to see Northeastern roll off five straight to get within 13-11 after one quarter.

The Bears got a little breathing room in the second period, outscoring their visitors 17-13 to edge ahead 30-24 at the intermission.

When the second half began, Northeastern got a quick bucket from Maltavis Hoffler and a three-pointer from Matt Dixon to get within 30-29.

From there, the battle went back-and-forth for the remainder of the period. LaMarcus “Buck” Jenkins and Tydreke Powell each scored late in the third as they helped give the Bears a 43-36 lead by the end of the period.

The Bears extended their lead to 10 (48-38) early in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles stormed back thanks to a three-point play by Deronte McNeil and triples off the hands of Hoffler and Dixon, getting within 56-54 with under two minutes to play.

HCHS then sealed the win with their defense.

“This was a great conference win against a very good basketball team,” Simmons said.

The victory boosts the Bears to 16-2 overall and 7-1 in the league.

HCHS (59): LaMarcus Jenkins n 14, Lamar Monger n 13, Patrick Downing n 10, T. Powell n 9, A. Branch n 7, M. Burnell n 2, A. Lyles n 2, D. Everette n 2

Northeastern (56): Matt Dixon n 21, Maltavis Hoffler n 12, Jeremy Banks n 10, C. Morris n 8, D. McNeil – 5