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Falcons soar by Knights

WINDSOR – Five in ten.

That’s how many games the Bertie High boy’s basketball team will play in as many days.

The Falcons – coming off a split in the recent Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Basketball Classic sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty – played their third game in six days Tuesday night and easily dispatched Currituck, 79-36, as Bertie returned to league action in the Northeastern Coastal Conference.

The win upped Bertie’s mark to 8-4 on the season and 2-1 in the conference. The Knights fell to 0-8 on the season and 0-3 in the NEC.

Wykevin Bazemore had the sharpest talons for the Falcons, leading Bertie with 20 points – 16 in the first half – and hauled down a team-high 15 rebounds. Norman Cherry III returned to double-figure scoring form with 11 while Marquee Outlaw and Jacauy Mitchell had nine apiece coming off the bench.

“That schedule is kind of tough for our kids,” said a smiling Bertie Head Coach Lester Lyons, “but I told the guys that’s how you get to be a playoff team because you’ve got to win six in a row in a short time span.

“We could have played Northeastern at another time,” he added. “But we rescheduled it for a purpose because we wanted to see if they can play tough teams on short notice.”

The Falcons were originally scheduled to meet Northeastern in a conference game on December 17, but rescheduled the game for Saturday in Windsor with a 6:30 p.m. tip-off.

Bertie will have seen the Eagles before, having lost to them, 81-75, during a holiday tournament last month.

Despite a game at Edenton Friday night sandwiched between last night and Saturday’s tilt, the Falcons used the tune-up with the Knights to get some prime playing time for its non-starters.

“We had an opportunity to just overwhelm them in the second quarter,” said Lyons, “and that enabled some of our younger guys to get some playing time.”

The game was tight only for the first two-and-a-half minutes with Currituck even taking its only lead, 5-4, five and a half minutes after tip-off. But from there until the end of the quarter, Bertie outscored the visitors, 14-to-six.

The home team got an eight-point effort from Bazemore and took a 19-11 lead after the first eight minutes when Darius Moody brought the crowd to its feet with an arcing jump shot at the top of the key that banked in for a three-pointer.

The second quarter was when Bertie put the game away: holding Currituck to just six points on three field goals while scoring 24 on their end of the floor.

After William Jenkins made a free throw to make it a nine-point margin, Bazemore scored two buckets thanks to some acrobatic rebounding and putbacks, one score coming on a soft jump shot in the lane.

It was 26-13 when Ramone Battle hit a jump shot on the wing and then, on the Falcons’ next possession, nailed a rainbow three-pointer from the right corner.

Currituck scored on their next two trips down the floor before Cherry hit a trey that doubled the score, 34-17.

Bertie went to their pressure defense, run by the reserves, and the Knights never scored again before halftime. Meanwhile, Moody got his second trey of the game, and Bazemore’s jack-rabbit rebounding and putbacks gave the Falcons a 43-17 margin at halftime.

The barrage continued on into the third quarter where Bertie’s defense again held Currituck under double-figures.  The Knights, who unofficially shot less than 15 percent for the game, managed to score only nine in the frame.

At the other end, Lyons was running all sorts of player combinations in and out of the game and with good results everywhere except the charity stripe where the Falcons were just 2-for-7 in free throw shooting for the quarter.

It didn’t matter at one point because Deshaun Morris was fouled on a bucket at one point, and while he missed the and-one free throw, Mitchell skyed through the lane on the bounce and finger-rolled in another basket.

Leading 63-26 entering the final quarter, Lyons cleared out his bench with 10 of 11 players scoring and coasted to the Falcons’ largest margin of victory in a game this season, 43 points.

“We really needed rest for our starters,” said Lyons, “so it was good we could run those other guys out there on the floor.

“We didn’t really have a lot of practice time,” he added, “and we’re trying to save something for the weekend. But this was a good game to help us get our legs back and get some confidence about ourselves heading into the weekend.”