Tip-in knocks out Bears
AHOSKIE – Hertford County High School gave the defending state 3-A champs all they wanted.
In the end, a tip-in sealed the deal and the Gryphons escaped Hertford County with a 63-59 victory.
“We battled the defending state champion to the end and lost on a last second tip-in,” HCHS basketball boss Charles Simmons said. “I was very pleased with our effort. The kids played their hearts out.
“We have to take this game and grow as a team,” he added. “We also had great team play tonight.”
Hertford Country trailed by 11 with just under three minutes to play, but battled back to tie the game at the one-minute mark.
Jquwan Ruffin hit back-to-back three-pointers and then Darius Wright scored from behind the arc to close the gap to 59-57 with 1:15 on the clock. Ruffin tied the game on the next trip down the floor and set up the final seconds.
Rocky Mount got a tip-in basket by Donte Battle with two seconds to play and then sealed the win after being fouled with a second remaining in the game as Battle hit both from the charity stripe.
The end of the game was not the only time Ruffin and Battle squared off as each led their team with 24 points in the contest. Ruffin got an assist from the 11 scored by Jarrett Sexton while Battle got help from Michael Hines (12), Mason Hines (11) and Jaquell Bryant (10).
Hertford County came out of the gates well, out-scoring Rocky Mount 13-9 in the first quarter thanks in part to a surge of offense from Ruffin and Sexton.
The Gryphons chipped into the lead during the second quarter and eventually took a 23-19 lead after a pair of free throws by Bryant.
HCHS rallied again, however, as Ruffin hit a triple and a deuce followed by a hoop from Maurice Earley that gave HCHS a 27-23 edge.
Rocky Mount closed the quarter with successive hoops by Battle as they tied the contest heading into the locker room at the intermission.
The Gryphons were again able to pull away in the early part of the third quarter, but HCHS again stormed back, getting a free throw and a hoop from Ruffin before Ryan Weaver and Darius Wright hit back-to-back triples to give HCHS a 45-42 edge heading into the final period.
Rocky Mount dominated the early going in the fourth quarter and appeared ready to put the Bears away until HCHS stormed back with their late run that tied the game.
HCHS dropped to 2-4 for the season with the loss.