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Bears score close win

AHOSKIE – This was the rubber match.

Earlier, Bertie had defeated Hertford County in boy’s varsity basketball during December’s News-Herald Holiday Classic, but it was the Bears who triumphed in the first conference meeting back in Windsor in January.

So it came down to Friday’s game to determine who’d hold the bragging rights between the two old rivals for this season.

Trailing by a dozen points with six minutes remaining, Hertford County made it a successful Senior Night by pulling out a 73-71 come-from-behind win.

“This was a good comeback win,” said Bears coach Charles Simmons. “We picked up our defensive pressure and got them to turn it over when we needed them to. I was very pleased with our comeback.”

In a game that featured 10 tie-scores and 14 lead changes, Bertie’s Quatravis Riddick and Joshua Burden scored 55 of Bertie’s 71 points with Riddick’s 32 points – three points off his career-high and first time he’d scored 30 points against a conference team other than Currituck. Four Bears players scored in double-digits, including seniors Talik Totten and Zion Riddick with 14 each.

Zion Riddick scored the first four points for the Bears in what would be a physical game. The Falcons were playing without 6-8 sophomore center Jaqwan Baker – out with a shoulder injury – but Deontre Bryant and Alden Cottle closed out the first quarter with three-point plays and a 15-13 Falcons lead.

Neither team led by more than three points the entire second quarter. The Bears re-took the lead on a pair of field goals from Totten (18-17), but Riddick answered for the Falcons, putting them back in front. When Burden connected on a triple, the game was tied for the third time, 25-all. In the closing minutes, the game was tied three times before Burden’s layup gave Bertie a 36-34 bulge at halftime.

Three more ties and two lead changes punctuated the third quarter’s opening minutes before it was Burden again putting the Falcons in front 42-40, all part of a 9-0 Falcon run. This gave Bertie some breathing room, but the Bears didn’t let it become a runaway and Bertie’s lead was just six, 51-45, headed to the final stanza.

Bertie continued to score off Bear misses and soon had built a dozen-point lead, 60-48 with six minutes remaining. But the Bears strung together an 8-0 run to get it to 60-56. When Wiggins scored on a put back, the Bears had climbed within one point, 61-60.

Bertie stretched the lead back to five points, 65-60, thanks to Riddick, but the Bears relentless pursuit continued. At the 2:04 mark, they’d reduced it to three, 67-64. At 1:46, Riddick then found Cherry open in the corner for a trey and it was tied (67-67) for the first time since the second quarter. Two Lance Hunter free throws gave Hertford County its first lead of the half (69-67) at the 1:12 mark. Riddick tried to keep Bertie in it with two late baskets, but Cooper’s late lay-up was the last field goal as the Bears salted it away at the free throw line (4-of-6) and claimed a two-point win.

“We had a great team effort,” noted Simmons. “This was a great conference win.”

Hertford County (14-9, 8-2, NCC) will play its first game in the Northeastern Coastal Conference tournament on Wednesday at Northeastern High School. If they win they’ll play for the championship Friday at home.

BERTIE BOYS   (71)

Quatravis Riddick-32, Joshua Burden-23, Jamari White-6, Alden Cottle-5, Deontre Bryant-3, Maurice Hayes-2.

HERTFORD COUNTY BOYS (73)

Michale Cooper-15, Zion Riddick-14, Talik Totten-14, Jaheim Wiggins-14, Delmonta Cherry-8, Lance Hunter-8.