New Kent needs overtime to clip York’s wings 71-65
As the calendar turned from 2018-19, New Kent head coach Ronnie Cox spent part of that time scouting the York Falcons at their holiday tournament. Despite inconsistent play by the Trojans, that pre-planning reaped benefits Friday night.
New Kent survived a 71-65 overtime contest against the Falcons during the Bay Rivers District contest to even their record to 5-5 on the year.
The Trojans seemed to have things going their way in the second quarter with senior Evan Branch returning from a hand injury. The balanced offense produced an 18-point lead throughout the quarter before settling with a 12-point advantage at the halftime intermission.
Managing an eight-point lead early in the fourth quarter, York elected to pressure the hosts. New Kent began making untimely errors, allowing the Falcons to cut the lead to three. That lead was wiped out moments later when York swingman Jayden Flood-Brown converted a trifecta with under two minutes to go. New Kent’s Jalen Banks missed two critical free throws that could have provided extra distance for the hosts, but instead, it resulted in York’s Jaylen Hawthorne’s lay-in and a 57-56 Falcon lead.
The next minute of the game would last nearly five real-time minutes, as both teams committed several fouls while applying pressure defense. Branch’s free throw restored a one-point lead to New Kent (58-57) before Hawthorne added a putback lay-up over the extended hands of Trojan big man Dean Powell to reclaim the lead.
Trojan guard Mitch Morse was fouled on the next drive down the court with four seconds remaining. He converted the second one to tie the game at 59. A half-court heave by York’s Hawthorne failed to fall through the rim and both teams transitioned into overtime.
From there, New Kent regrouped behind free throw shooting of Banks, who opened up a five-point margin for the hosts. The gritty guard would take a charge on the next play down the floor against York, returning the ball to the Trojans and allowing the hosts to hold on for the win.
Cox commented that the long layoff for the holiday break against competition factored into the contest.
“We missed a lot of free throws tonight and we were not as sharp going into the second half,” he said. “York actually played in a tournament and we showed our rust. But we hit York when we needed to in overtime.”
As for Branch’s return, it provided a spark for New Kent and Cox hopes the energy rubs off on the team.
“He’s a great athlete and a leader as well,” Cox commented. “He has not played basketball since tenth grade and to walk out there like that and play exceptional is remarkable.”
Branch’s 19 points led the Trojans in the contest, while teammates Robb Kinder and Morse also finished in double figures with 17 and 16, respectively. Jared McCaughan tossed in eight, Powell contributed six, Kevin Harris added three, and Banks rounded out the scoring with two.