Bertie-HCHS rivalry goes down to the wire

Published 9:34 am Monday, January 22, 2024

By ANDRE ALFRED

Sports Correspondent

AHOSKIE – The historic and crowd-pleasing non-conference matchup between the Bertie Falcons and the Hertford County Bears has been an on-going traditional rivalry for many years, yielding maximum crowd capacity whether located at Hertford County’s or Bertie’s gymnasium.

Bertie’s Jah’Kelvin Rascoe (#3) slices between two HCHS defenders – Jayden Robinson (left) and Tyrone Ruffin Jr. – during Saturday night’s non-conference clash in Ahoskie. Rascoe and the Falcons escaped the Bears Den with a narrow 51-49 win. A.A. Imaging / Andre Alfred

The rivalry took place at the Bear’s Den on Saturday, Jan. 20, which was filled to capacity with standing room only as the crowd witnessed the Bertie edge Hertford County, 51-49.

Both teams competed in conference play the night before, enduring minimum rest for this non- conference, bragging right battle.

The Falcons seemed extremely sluggish the first quarter while their counterparts were filled with enthusiasm and vigor posting an eight-point lead by the end of the first quarter, 18-10.

Falcons’ junior guard Tayvien Ward opened the second with a three-pointer, followed by a basket from junior guard Zymiere Dempsey shrinking the Bears deficit to three points (18-15).

Hertford County’s Keveon Rodgers answered back with a basket in the paint only to be countered by a trey ball for Bertie’s Tequan Holley, bringing the refreshed Falcons within two points of the Bears.

The rivals would trade baskets for the remainder of the of the first half, but the Bears maintained the lead and closed the first half ahead, 31-26.

The teams came out in the third quarter by swapping baskets early in the period. With less than six minutes left on the clock, the Bears suffered a major setback as their key player, Rodgers, injured his ankle on a defensive rebound and would not return to the game.

With the lost of Rodgers, the Bears gameplay appeared disconcerted and out of sync as the Falcons began closing in on Hertford County.

Bertie took the lead for the first time in the game and ended the third quarter ahead, 42-39.

It came down to who wanted it more in the fourth quarter. Every missed shot, free-throw, and turnover was crucial.

As the teams continued to battle on the floor, the momentum swayed back in the direction of the Bears as they got the go-ahead basket from senior Tyrone Ruffin Jr, who put his team up 47-46.

Holley answered for Bertie off a basket and a free throw, which swung the advantage back to Bertie, 50-47.

With 10 seconds left, Bears senior Ja’Marcus White scored a basket and was fouled, but couldn’t convert the “and one” free throw, leaving Hertford County down by a single point (50-49).

On Bertie’s ensuing possession, guard Jah’Kelvin Rascoe was able to penetrate the paint and draw the foul. Rascoe made one of two free throws as the Falcons led 51-49.

With just a handful of seconds left on the clock, Rimiez Williams drove hard to rim and was fouled. However, neither of the free throws by Williams found their mark and Bertie escaped with the two-point win.