Bertie boys stay hot
WINDSOR – Hot.
That’s the best way to describe Bertie High School’s boys basketball team in this warm December.
The Falcons won their sixth game against no defeats Tuesday night with a 66-58 come from behind victory over 4-A J.H. Rose; spoiling the homecoming of former Falcons star and Rose coach, James Rankins.
It’s Bertie’s best start in six years.
Shaquille White paced Bertie with 14 points while teammate Shyki Mitchell added 10.
Samuel Harris of Rose (2-5) led all scorers with 16.
With 4:30 to go in the third quarter, Rose was sailing with an eight-point lead before Bertie’s defense completely suffocated the Rampants’ inside game.
“They started missing layups and we started scoring in transition,” said first-year Falcons coach Kelvin Hayes. “I’ve always believed that the team that scores the most transition baskets wins the ball game.
“That’s why we pressed, hoping they’ll make mistakes and we’ll get those transitional baskets,” he added.
Each team had early runs in the first quarter of a very physical game. Bertie’s began right after Tyhuan Moore went out following a hard elbow to the face.
The Falcons then went up by six, 10-4, as Jaquil Hafiz buried a pair of three-point field goals. But Rose got a trey of their own, followed by a layup and a jump shot in the lane and the score was tied 13-13 with under a minute left in the quarter.
Another Rose shot from beyond the arc gave the Rampants a three point lead, but Bertie got a layup just before the horn sounded and trailed, 16-15 going into the second quarter.
The Falcons opened the second with Malcolm Cherry dropping a pair of free throws to swing the lead back Bertie’s way. A 7-2 run from there gave the Falcons a 24-18 lead.
Rose adjusted and started to attack the basket, leading to a trail to the free throw line where the Rampants went 5-for-8. Bertie got a three-pointer, but that was all as Rose pulled into a tie at 27-all with 2:30 remaining.
After another tie Rose moved out to an eight-point lead, 37-29, but Marque Outlaw trimmed that with a baseline jump shot and Dominique Gilliam made a free throw to send the teams into the locker room with Rose ahead by five, 37-32.
The third quarter opened with Bertie attacking the basket and drawing Rose fouls. But Bertie only made three3of-6 from the line and Rose stayed in front.
Hayes then switched to a man-to-man defense for the Falcons and it paid off. Trailing 44-36, Bertie took advantage of Rose misses in the paint and turned them into fast-break layups.
Three of those runaways and suddenly it was a one-point game, 44-43 Rose’s way. Despite Rankins trying to get back-door layups, the Rampants couldn’t get anything to fall as they were smothered by Bertie defenders.
Mitchell then hit a rainbow three-pointer that swished nothing but net and at 46-44, Bertie was back in front for good.
Malik Williams, who led all second-half scorers with eight points, opened the fourth quarter by wowing the crowd with a rebound dunk as Bertie began to pour it on. Hayes went to a slow-down game forcing Rose to chase.
It just led to fouls and free throws and this time Bertie was on the mark (5-of-6), upping it to the final eight-point winning margin.
“After a while we stopped fouling because they (Bertie) were making their free throws,” said a disappointed Rankins. “We got our big guys inside, and then missed six layups.
“Defensively we did okay,” he added. “They were just able to get a lot of second-chance points.”
Bertie now heads into Northeastern Coastal Conference play next Tuesday on the road in Elizabeth City against Pasquotank.