Bears survive in overtime

Published 7:38 am Thursday, February 21, 2013

WINDSOR – Playing without the player that accounts for 60 per cent of their offense the Hertford County boys basketball team got a scare from Currituck Tuesday night. With the wakeup call, the Bears pulled out a win in the first round of the Northeastern Coastal Conference tournament 42-35 in overtime. All of the first-round games were played at the Bertie High School gym.

Junior guard Jquwan Ruffin missed the game for a violation of team rules according to the Bears’ coaching staff, but center O’Shane Ximines picked up the offense with a 14 point effort. Teammate Tyquan Davis contributed nine points while Darius Wright had six. Thanks to the Bears’ defense no Currituck player scored in double-figures.

“O’Shane really stepped up big for us early, but everybody else came thru in the second half,” said veteran Bears coach Charles Simmons. “He was consistent all night long, but he was really huge in the fourth quarter.”

Playing on a ‘neutral’ floor neither team was able to click with its offense early. Hertford County tried to attack the basket in the low-post, drawing Currituck fouls but only making two free throws in the game’s first eight minutes.

Ximines got the Bears on the board with a couple of foul shots and tied the game at 2-2. After the Knights scored to go ahead again, it was Ximines with a couple of lay-ups in the paint and a 6-4 Bear lead. The game was tied 6-6 with under a minute left in the quarter before Davis hit a three-pointer giving the Bears a 9-6 bulge after the first stanza of play.

The Bears kept giving the Knights an opportunity for an upset, but the Knights could never quite take advantage. Ximines again stood tall in the paint, giving the Bears first a five-point lead (13-8) and later a six-point bulge (17-11). As the clock ticked down to halftime Currituck mounted a small comeback with two short jump shots and pulled within two points at the mid-break, trailing just 17-15.

In the third quarter Dorrein Askew gave Hertford County a 21-17 lead and it seemed as if the Bears’ hibernating offense had finally awaken. However, it was short lived because Currituck got within one thanks to a three-point shot and then collected two more field goals to suddenly turn on the Bears and lead it 24-21. A Davis bucket with time winding down made it a one-point deficit for HCHS, 24-23, as the game entered the fourth quarter.

After Currituck scored the first basket of the frame, HertfordCounty scored six in a row thanks to Jemel Monger, Ximines, and Ryan Weaver for a 28-26 Bear lead. Left unguarded, the Knights’ Nigel Powell knocked down a couple of field goals to re-take the lead for Currituck and from there it was nip-and-tuck the rest of the quarter.

Alex Sample’s conventional three-point play gave the Knights a 33-30 lead and the Currituck fans were sensing the upset with two minutes to play and the Bears sluggish once more. Instead, Darius Wright got loose on a screen and let fly a three-pointer that tied it with 1:50 to play.  Instead of attacking, the Knights held for one shot with all that much time remaining. They got free for a back-door lay-up, but the shot missed and the game was headed to overtime, knotted 33-all.

Wright came thru for HCHS again with a three-pointer to open the extra period. Askew then made two free throws for a five-point Bear lead with 1:14 to play. Currituck got loose for another back-door to get within three with less than a minute to go in overtime; but HertfordCounty made four-of-four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.

The tournament semi-finals now move to Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City where Hertford County will play Bertie for the third time this season with a 6:30 p.m. tip-off. Pasquotank, who upset Edenton in the other first-round game, will play the top-seed Eagles on Northeastern’s home floor in the nightcap.