Falcons surge past Nighthawks

Published 7:36 am Thursday, February 21, 2013

WINDSOR – It could have been a night of upsets, but opportunity didn’t fly the Nighthawks way.

BertieHigh School ‘protected its house’ as hosts of the first round of the Northeastern Coastal Conference boys basketball tournament by winning the night-cap handily over First Flight High School, 69-51. The victory pulled the Falcons within one win of a 20-win season, their first in three years.

Shaquille White led the Falcon swarm with a 22-point scoring effort, while teammate Malik Williams chipped in 14 and Malcolm Cherry had nine.

Jack Konstanzer had 16 points to lead the Nighthawks while Billy Foster scored 13.

This one was a tight contest until Bertie began to pull away late in the third quarter. First Flight only scored ten points in the last twelve minutes of game time.

Perhaps the Falcons were looking past the Nighthawks, but First Flight was playing for its post-season life. A nip-and-tuck first quarter saw Williams score a couple of buckets in the low-post, but First Flight was answering by bombing away from the outside. The Falcons never got more than a four-point lead in that opening quarter and that came courtesy of Skyki Mitchell’s long-range jump shot just inside the three-point arc that gave Bertie a 15-11 lead as the first horn sounded.

Whatever Nighthawk coach Chad Williams said in the huddle between the quarter break must have worked because First Flight came out dive-bombing in the frame; outscoring Bertie nine-to-two to seize a 20-17 lead. But the Falcons went to their bread-and-butter in the low post – namely Williams and White – and despite some Nighthawk wrangling, Bertie managed to re-take the lead, 25-23.

Still, First Flight never let their winged foes escape the aviary; tying the game three times in the last three minutes of the quarter before Williams and Deshondre Day were finally able to subdue the visitors – at least for the quarter – and take a 36-32 lead into the locker-room at halftime.

First Flight again jumped out front at the opening of a quarter once more when they scored four points to first tie the game again at 36-all before taking a 39-38 lead a minute later. However, it was after Bertie coach Kelvin Hayes called a time-out and lit into his players for their sloppy defensive effort that things began to change. Bertie came back to produce the eighth and final tie-score of the game, 42-42, before ripping off 15 unanswered points and totally taking over the game with both their pressure defense as well as extending their zone to fend off the First Flight bombers, who’s shots were suddenly clanging off the iron.

The lead was eleven points, 53-42, entering the final frame and from there Bertie still wasn’t finished; outscoring the Nighthawks 11-1 and bumping their lead up to over twenty. Their biggest lead was 22 points, twice, the last time being 68-46 en route to the eighteen-point final score.

The NCC tournament now heads to ElizabethCity for the rest of the event. Northeastern High will host tonight’s semi-finals featuring Bertie-HertfordCounty, part-3, in the 6:30 game with Northeastern-Pasquotank to follow. The boys championship will be Friday night at ElizabethCityStateUniversity’s R.L.VaughnCenter.