In a pair of varsity basketball games both decided by three points, Midway split with visiting East Central 2-A Conference foe James Kenan on Friday, with the Raiders winning the boys game and the Tigers taking the girls contest.
After suffering a heartbreaking loss on a buzzer beater against East Duplin on Tuesday, Midway’s boys team bounced back by edging James Kenan 54-51 on Friday.
“We’ve been here so many times this year,” said Midway boys coach Aaron Lane. “We’ve been lucky enough to win a couple of them and we’ve had some unfortunate losses. I think Tuesday night was one of the hardest losses that you can take. We led the entire game and then lose the game on a buzzer-beating shot for the third time this year. I’m just proud of our guys for being able to come back with this attitude and effort. Everything that we’re doing here is about culture for us. I’ve been talking about since day one building culture and having a championship mindset. Everything’s a mindset. That’s what I’m trying to bring is a championship mindset and a will to win, no matter what’s going on in life. So, I’m just proud of our guys being able to come back and take on this really good, really athletic James Kenan team.”
The play of junior Tyler Godwin in the paint was a major factor in the win for the Raiders (8-11, 2-7 ECC). He totaled 16 points to lead all scorers.
“Tyler’s unbelievable,” Lane said. “I’ve never seen anybody that brings it that way every single day. He’s a competitor. He’s always in the same mood and it’s always a good mood. Energy. Bringing people up. Enthusiastic. Tyler is probably the most important piece to our team, just because of what he does around the rim and his presence in the game.”
Senior Jamar Autry was also a strong performer for Midway, with 10 points.
“Jamar has come a long way since we added him to the team just after Christmas,” Lane said. “Obviously it takes a little while to get in the rhythm of things when you’re first joining a team. But Jamar’s just gotten better and better as the year’s gone on. He’s found his place. I push him, telling him, ‘I need you getting every single rebound you can get and making every single play you can make.’ He’s really bought in. Jamar’s a fantastic kid, easy to coach and he’s been working really hard for us down the stretch.”
Jaden Covington had nine points. Lane Baggett had eight points. Cameron Barefoot had six points. Luke Strickland and Wyatt Holland had two points apiece. Thornton Baggett had one point.
Senior Prince Lee had 15 points and senior Armonte Carlton had 10 points to lead the Tigers (8-10, 3-5).
James Kenan opened the game on a 16-6 run, but Midway ended the first quarter with eight unanswered points to cut the lead to 16-14 at the end of the quarter.
After outscoring James Kenan 11-8 in the second quarter and 14-10 in the third, Midway held a 39-34 lead heading into the final frame.
A critical possession went in Midway’s favor near the halfway point in the fourth quarter. With Midway leading 43-42, Barefoot was fouled by James Kenan’s T.J. Faison, his fifth. On his way to the bench, he was also issued a technical foul for something said in front of an official. Barefoot made one of his two free throws, Holland made both of the technical free throws and Covington scored on the extra possession to extend Midway’s lead to six.
With Midway holding a 54-48 lead late in the quarter, Carlton hit a three to cut the lead in half and James Kenan took a timeout with just over 10 seconds remaining. The Tigers forced a turnover on the ensuing possession, but Carlton’s potential game-tying three was off the mark and the Raiders escaped with the win.
Cold shooting was costly for Midway in a 43-40 loss to James Kenan in the girls game.
“Nobody was ready to shoot,” said Midway girls coach Allen McLamb. “You can’t shoot 22 percent and win in this league. Until we get better shooting from the floor, we’re in trouble. And we did not box out anybody all night. We got beat on the boards. We got beat on the floor in shooting. We got whooped. Simple as that.”
Senior Jenna Pope had 11 points and seven rebounds to lead the Raiders (13-7, 5-4).
Allison Belflowers had nine points. Kris’Shyia McKoy had eight points. Rylie Williams had six points and seven rebounds. Caitlyn Holland had two points and four steals. Sydney Williams had two points and eight rebounds. Makenzi Hudson had two points and seven rebounds.
Midway shot just 15-for-68 (22 percent) from the field and 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) from the free throw line in the contest.
Sophomore Emma Avent had 11 points to pace the Tigers (9-9, 3-5).
After trailing 12-7 at the end of the first quarter, Midway cut the lead to 22-21 at halftime before James Kenan outscored Midway 12-8 in the third to push the lead to 36-29.
“They won the third quarter and we couldn’t catch back up,” McLamb said. “If you don’t win the third, you’re in trouble and we didn’t win the third.”
With Midway down 42-38 in the waning seconds, Pope was fouled while attempting a three-pointer and made two of the ensuing free throws to make it a one-score game and a turnover gave Midway one last chance with seven seconds left, but the game-tying attempt was no good and Dynasty Williams grabbed the rebound for James Kenan and was fouled and sank a free throw with less than a second left in the game.
Midway travels to Wallace-Rose Hill on Tuesday.
“I just want the guys to enjoy the win tonight and over the weekend and come back on Monday focused and locked back in for a really good Wallace team,” Lane said. “We’ve got to play them on the road. (Midway assistant) Coach (Matthew) Creech has said it a million times: Going to play Wallace at Wallace is never easy, no matter how good you are, how bad you are, how good they are or how bad they are. So, we’re just going to keep building off of this, because I feel like right now, we know who we are. And I think if you know who you are in life, you can go as far as you want to go.”