Midway’s varsity boys basketball team saw a great deal of improvement Tuesday, but visiting rival Triton was able to come away with a 71-60 victory.
“I knew they’d be better,” said Triton coach T.J. Morrison. “I knew they’d have a better game this time out. Those kids are fighters and they played hard and gave us a run. I knew they wouldn’t quit. We’ve just got to get better. We tried some things defensively to shake it up a little bit, just to play a little differently than maybe we did last time. We’re not quite as good as I had hoped. We’re just looking forward to practice tomorrow and Thursday and a big game with South (Johnston) Friday.”
Midway coach Joseph Easley said senior point guard Bryson Core returning from illness helped in the Raiders’ improvement.
“We had one of our four players (out with injury or illness) back tonight, Bryson Core,” Easley said. “That makes a difference when you have another ball-handler out on the court and another threat to shoot. Just having Bryson back helped us out a lot and gives our guys some confidence.”
A trio of seniors led the way for the Hawks (4-2). Derreon Burnett had 19 points and seven rebounds, Kalil Hodges had a double-double, with 16 points, 10 assists and five steals, and Emari White had 14 points and four steals.
“I’m proud of Kalil. I’d been waiting for him to have a game like he had,” Morrison said. “He’s been having three or four assists a game and he had 10 this time. He scored tonight and was able to give out assists, so a better game for him just leading on the floor. Emari hit some big shots. He’s capable of really shooting the basketball well. It just hasn’t fallen quite like we’d like it to just yet, but he did a couple of big threes. Derreon has been making plays and has been pretty steady for us this year.”
Travion Sanders had six points and six rebounds. Colby Parker had six points and five rebounds. Shaiheim Strickland had four points and five rebounds. Tre’sean McLeod and Dalen Thompson had three points apiece.
Junior Jamar Autry had 24 points and senior Carsse Lucas had 14 points to lead the Raiders (3-6).
“(Lucas) was finishing around the rim for us much better,” Easley said. “He’s doing a heck of a job considering this is his first year of varsity basketball. I think you’re going to see a lot of improvement from him this season. Carsse definitely gave us a lot tonight and I’m proud of him.”
Bryson Core, returning from illness, had eight points. Tony Pena and Luke Strickland had five points apiece. Jaden Covington had four points.
At the end of a closely contested first quarter, Midway held a 16-15 lead. But Triton opened the second quarter with a 12-2 run to take the lead for good.
Trailing by as much as 17 in the fourth, Midway continued to battled and cut the lead to as low as nine, but was unable to overcome Triton.
Midway travels to rival Hobbton tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 12) before beginning East Central 2-A Conference play at home against Spring Creek on Friday.
“I don’t like losing and we’ve experienced too much of that these last two years,” Easley said. “It’s not something I’m used to and we’ve got to get hungry for a win. I don’t care who it’s against. We’ve got to show up tomorrow hungry. We’ve got to play hard and we’ve got to find a way to win tomorrow. And I think that’s going to help with our energy level in practice on Thursday and that will be great going into Friday against Spring Creek.”
Triton is at rival South Johnston on Friday night. South edged Triton 52-49 in overtime at Triton on Nov. 30.
“We’ve got to get better defensively,” Morrison said. “Finding shooters and rebounding the basketball. We’ve got to get better against the zone, if they’re playing the zone.”