Bertie survives Currituck challenge

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WINDSOR – Down to the wire.

Bertie avoided what would have been a huge upset Tuesday night as they claimed a 73-66 overtime win over Currituck in Northeastern Coastal Conference play.

The Knights (2-18, 0-10, NCC) had no answer down the stretch for Bertie’s guards who’s deft ball handling and dead-eye free throw shooting made the difference in the extra period.

Shaquillle White – who doesn’t play in the back court – led four Falcons in double figures with 16 points, including a dozen in the second half.  Malcolm Cherry added 15 while Dreshawn Morris and Raekwon Williams had 10 each.

The Knights’ Donmonic Hickson led all scorers with 23 points in a losing effort.

“We’ve got to keep it interesting,” chuckled Bertie coach Robert Jones.  “It was a game of spurts, with a lot of missed layups, but they fought back and that’s the most heart and intensity they’ve showed this season.”

Down by four, 62-58, and out of timeouts, Currituck took advantage of a defensive lapse by Bertie and got Justin Midgett open under the basket for a layup with 12 seconds left, making it, 62-60.

Bertie could not in-bound the ball as the precious seconds ticked away and turned the ball over with one-and-four-tenths of a second left.

That left time for a catch-and-shoot under their own basket if the Knights could execute it.

On the in-bounds play, Juwan Harvey lobbed a floater over a trio of Bertie defenders and, making like Christian Laettner in the famous Duke-Kentucky game of nearly 20 years ago, Alex Sample caught the ball in mid-air and banked it in just as the buzzer sounded.

Even with the Currituck bench and fans erupting in cheers, then spurring on every Knights play; Bertie kept its cool and did what it had to do in overtime, outscoring the Knights, 11-4.

Cherry and Williams played keep-away in the half-court offense and looked for nothing but an open layup.  On the first Bertie possession Cherry drove the lane for a scoring lay-in and was fouled. His free throw made it a three-point game, 65-62.

Williams then drained four free throws and the Falcons got an alley-oop lay-in from Morris to hold on for the win.

“Those missed free throws (6-for-17 through three quarters) and missed shots might’ve meant we wouldn’t have had to battle so hard to get it to overtime,” said disappointed Knights’ coach Robert Griffin.

“We had opportunity,” he added with his voice trailing off, “we had opportunity and we just couldn’t finish.”

A pair of early three-pointers gave Currituck a 6-5 lead before a pair of Williams free throws gave Bertie a lead they would hold until the Knights tied it midway thru the fourth quarter.

In between Bertie was in command throughout the contest but the pesky Knights just wouldn’t go away. The Falcons led by four, 19-15, after the first period thanks to eight points from Morris and had a six-point bulge, 30-24, at halftime.

Williams got half of the dozen points the Falcons scored in the third quarter with a Deshaquan Brown three-point play and Jaquil Hafiz’ third three pointer of the game accounting for the other six points.

Leading 42-38 entering the final eight minutes, Bertie was outscored, 8-4, in the first four minutes, allowing Currituck to tie the contest at 46-all with 3:52 left.

But after a time out, Bertie surged once more,  three-point plays by Cherry and Deshondre Day and a pair of Williams free throws gave Bertie their biggest lead, seven points, 57-50, with under two minutes in the game.

But the prosperity didn’t last, as Currituck got it down to a four point game with under a minute to go and that set up the fantastic finish.

“Each win teaches us something,” said Jones. “Working on our free throw shooting and boxing out on rebounds in practice is what helped pay off tonight.”

Bertie (8-9, 5-5, NCC) will travel to Edenton Friday, then close out the regular season hosting Hertford County on February 10.