Charles City builds early double-digit lead on New Kent, withstands rally for 74-63 win
Rivalry games usually are filled with packed houses, loud fans, and great competition. While the first two were missing from Charles City and New Kent’s Monday night contest, the latter wasn’t.
The visiting Panthers built a double-digit lead by the end of the third quarter and withstood a late rally by the hosting Trojans en route to a 74-63 victory during Monday night’s opening season contest.
Early on, Charles City threatened to put the game early thanks to a barrage of three-pointers. Two by seniors Kobie Trull and Kameron Johnson, followed by one from Tayvion Harris had the visitors on top 15-4 midway through the first frame.
But New Kent began to exploit Charles City’s weakness by using its size. Kevin Harris 6’3” frame caused fits for the visitors for most of the night. A lay-up by Kevin Harris sparked a 12-0 Trojan run, capped off by Calvin York’s lefty lay-up to provide the hosts what would eventually turn out to be their only lead of the night (16-15).
A Panthers timeout allowed the visitors to regain the lead by the end of the first quarter. And by the second quarter, their speed began factoring into defensive pressure. New Kent fumbled the ball away on several trips down the floor due to Charles City’s scrambling ball pressure. The end result was the Panthers taking a 36-23 lead into the halftime break.
Charles City continued to maintain its lead, pushing it to the 20-point mark (61-41) by the 5:22 mark of the fourth quarter. But the hosting Trojans had one additional push in them. With York forced to the bench with his fifth foul, New Kent’s Jack Swynford stepped up, hitting a three-pointer that bounced off the front of the rim before dropping through. His subsequent lay-in followed by Kevin Harris’ score had cut the Panthers’ lead down to a mere seven (68-61) with 2:09 remaining in regulation.
But time did not favor the hosts, as Charles City converted free throws down the stretch and forced Trojan errors. The end result resulted in Charles City notching a victory in the win column, forcing rival New Kent to wait another year for revenge as this game was the only contest the two were scheduled to meet this year.
Third year Charles City Panthers head coach Terrell Brooks talked about how a collective effort is going to be the key to how far they go, especially with a small team.
“We know what we’re going to get out of Kameron [Johnson] night in and night out,” said Brooks about his second-team all-state player from last year. “But we had great contributions tonight from Tayvion [Harris], Kobie [Trull], and Keondre [Barnes].
“Everyone that played really did their role tonight,” the victorious coach continued. “As long as we do our role, play hard, and play smart, we are going to be in every game. We did some things in the fourth quarter that were careless, but that was mental because it was our first game.
“It was unfamiliar territory, so the more times we get into those situations, the better we will be,” concluded Brooks.
For second year New Kent Trojans head coach Garrett Ross, he credited the visiting Panthers for their effort and said his team is still adjusting to their new roles.
“Charles City came out with more fire and they were ready to jump into this rivalry game,” the Trojans’ head coach commented. “Their players showed that they were more aggressive, and they went to the basket.
“We went into that drought that nobody wanted to do anything on our side and that put us in a hole,” he continued. “When you go down by that many points, it’s hard to get going.
“We have some people that have to play new roles and have to be able to score and feel comfortable in those roles,” Ross added as he wrapped up the interview. “We started to see that confidence come into play in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late. I think once they get a little more comfortable in that role and where they can be with their skill sets, they will be fine.”
Charles City’s (1-0) Johnson’s 29 points led all scorers in the game. Tayvion Harris and Trull both scored 18, Barnes pumped in six, and Bryan Lewis Jr. tossed in three for the victors.
Kevin Harris led New Kent (0-1) in the scoring column with 16 points. Swynford (15), York (12), and Logan Frederick (11) also finished in double figures for the hosts. Coltan Frederick added seven, and Isaiah Carr chipped in with two.