Charles City rallies from halftime deficit, keeps playoff chances alive with victory over King William
Currently holding the final spot in the 1A Region A playoff picture, Charles City’s Panthers know that they must win out to secure that position for the postseason berth. In Monday night’s matchup against the invading King William Cavaliers, the hosts battled to keep a stronghold on that spot.
Overcoming a seven-point halftime deficit, Charles City rallied to defeat King William 55-49 in the Tidewater District contest to keep their playoff hopes in their hands.
Christian Stewart’s wing three-pointer put the Panthers on top at the start of the game. But the hosts would suffer a six-minute scoring drought for the majority of the first quarter. Meanwhile, King William scored 10 straight points, with six of them coming from center Ethan Gibson to pull in front. It wasn’t until back-to-back assists from Kameron Johnson to Leo Charity for the hosts to snap the Cavalier’s scoring run, but by the end of the first, King William held a 15-10 advantage.
After Johnson’s free throws cut the lead to within two at the start of the second quarter, the visitors made their second big run on the night. A corner three by Jackson Steward was followed up by Keondre Roane’s steal and score. Roane added a trifecta and teammate Kolby Anderson’s putback bestowed the largest lead of the night for the visitors at 13 (25-12).
But Johnson took it upon himself to help Charles City get back into the contest. A conventional three-point play followed by a floater cut the deficit to eight (25-17). After a King William timeout, Johnson converted a lay-in and sank one of two free throws to slice the gap to five. Only Anderson’s lay-up before the halftime intermission stopped Johnson’s personal scoring run as King William took a 27-20 lead into the break.
But even halftime couldn’t cool off Johnson. His lay-up and trifecta cut King William’s lead to a mere two points moments into the quarter (27-25). From there, both teams exchanged scores before Christian Stewart’s free throw tied the game at 32 apiece with 2:13 remaining. The Cavaliers bounced back as Skylar Stone’s three and four points from Gavin Lipscomb pushed the lead back to six before the visitors finished the third quarter with a 42-38 advantage.
But King William could not solve Johnson’s antics. Back-to-back steal and scores tied the game at 42 apiece. On the next offensive trip down, Johnson drew a triple team from Cavalier defenders, resulting in him kicking the ball to Stewart in the corner for an easy three-pointer and the Panthers first lead early in the first quarter. Both teams again begin to exchange scores before Johnson converted two free throws and Charity added one for the Panthers to hold a 50-46 lead with 3:03 remaining.
The Cavaliers had an ample opportunity to take advantage of Charles City as Johnson went down to cramping with 2:22 remaining in the game. But instead of folding, the Panthers attacked as Keenan Stewart’s turn around floater provide a six-point margin (52-46). Roane rushed down the floor and drained a three-pointer from the wing to cut the deficit in half (52-49) and the Cavaliers called a timeout with 56.6 remaining. But that break allowed Johnson to check in for the Panthers, who was subsequently fouled on the inbound and converted two free throws to push the lead to five (54-49). King William missed their next shot attempts down the floor for the Panthers to grab the rebound. Rashad Williams’ free throw provided the final margin as Charles City clinched the win.
Panthers’ head coach Terrell Brooks said that the team heeded his advice at the break to rally back for the win.
“I told them that they had to talk on defense to put ourselves back in the game,” the victorious coach said. “They talked enough in our zone so that when one of their players ran through it, we passed their player to the next man.
“We also had active hands and got a lot of good sparks off the bench from Rashad [Williams], Keenan [Stewart], and Steven Trull,” Brooks continued. “I’ve been preaching since day one that we had to fight through adversity and that energy was the key for our team and tonight, we fought through adversity and the bench gave us energy.”
Charles City (5-15) got a game-high 29 points from Johnson. Charity and Christian Stewart also finished in double figures with 12 and 11 respectively. Trull added three, Keenan Stewart scored two, and Williams chipped in with one.
Roane led King William in scoring with 18 points.