In this year’s edition of the Nathan Gay Holiday Tournament, the consolation game was much more interesting than the championship game as the Lakewood Leopards blew a 17 point lead to lose to cross county rivals Hobbton, 60-58. Collin King hit a jumper with 3.2 seconds left in the game for the Wildcat win, as they were wearing Union’s dark jerseys.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the Leopards before they got in gear. It was midway the first quarter before the Leopards got on the scoreboard. The Wildcats still had a 9-4 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The Leopards got their offense in gear in the second quarter taking the lead at the 5:07 mark in the second. They were leading Hobbton 24-13 at the break. Lakewood continued to control the game in the 3rd and most of the 4th quarters.
With about 3:21 left in the 4th, the game really got interesting as the Wildcats had erased a substantial Leopard lead and were within 4 points with a 54-50 Leopard margin. The Wildcats tied it up at 54 with 2:30 left. The game was tied again at 56 and 58 as the Leopards lost too many turnovers allowing the Wildcats a chance.
Wildcat coach Alphonso Hooper said, “It was a big ball game tonight against Lakewood. My hat’s off to Coach Pittman. He does a good job coaching the guys. After last night we had a team meeting and decided where we need to go as we have been losing some close ball games. We decided to quit being selfish and play team basketball. We started out kinda flat. Their press bothered us some as we haven’t had a lot of time to work with a press. I told our guys tonight we were going to come out and play hard. They were up by 17 and we just kept chipping away and we kept getting steals off them. My hat’s off to Walter Thompson. Omar Farrior got in foul trouble and Thompson came in and gave us some of our big minutes. My bench also gave us some big minutes. It was good to get a win going into the new year.”
“I want to congratulate Coach Hooper and his team’s outstanding effort,” said Lakewood’s coach Sylvester Pittman. “I thought we had them on the ropes but they kept fighting back. We made a lot of mistakes down the stretch due to their pressure and an outstanding effort. Our kids just got to get better and be able to handle that pressure.”
The Wildcats had a balanced scoring attack with 3 players in double figures. Hunter Britt led the scoring with 16, Collin King had 14, Omar Farrior had 13. Jonathan Wright added 9 and Nicholas Bryant had 5.
Leading the scoring for the Leopards was Johnnie Owens with 14, Kobe Jackson had 13 and Nyseim Devane had 12.