Triton’s varsity boys basketball team snapped a five-game losing streak with a 67-65 Tri-County Six 3-A Conference win in double overtime at Harnett Central on Wednesday night.
The old basketball adage about the difficulty of beating a good team three times was verified once again. The Hawks had topped the Trojans 67-54 in the consolation game of the Harnett Tipoff Tournament at Campbell on Nov. 16 and prevailed 50-45 in the first Tri-County meeting between the neighboring rivals at Triton on Jan. 12.
The Hawks never led in regulation play in the third matchup, falling behind 11-3 at the outset of Central’s Senior Night.
But Triton found a way to improve to 13-10 overall and 4-5 in league play as Chrishaun Henry had 16 points. Shiquan Cox and Maurice Williams had 15 points each. Kalil Hodges scored 10 points.
Cox controlled 18 rebounds and Hodges had eight assists.
Four of the defeats in Triton’s losing streak were by a total of seven points.
Jalaan Signal led Central (12-9, 4-5) with 24 points, including 19 after halftime. Signal scored 13 of the Trojans’ 16 points in the extra periods. including all seven in the first overtime. His older brother, D.K. Signal, was a standout defensive lineman for Triton, completing his career with the 2014 season before entering military service.
Henry made two free throws with five-tenths of a second left in regulation to tie the score at 49 and force the first overtime.
Signal dropped a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left to tie the score at 56 and complete the scoring in the first extra period.
Cox had a tip-in to put the Hawks ahead to stay early in the second overtime. Triton was on top 67-62 before a 3-pointer by Signal made it a one-possession game again in the final minute of the second OT.
Kasey Perkins, the hero in Central’s 67-66 win at Western Harnett on Monday night with a late 3-pointer, had nine points and five assists for the Trojans. Justin Perkins and Kaizer Ray each had seven points. Ray grabbed 16 rebounds. Adam Jackson and Adonye Fubara had six points each for Central. Garrett Weis and Hayden Smith had three points apiece for the Trojans.
Williams hit a pair of threes in the last 1:18 of regulation to tie the score at 47 before Ray sank two free throws for a 49-47 Central lead with 4.5 seconds to go.
“Hard-fought game,” said Triton coach T.J. Morrison. “Both teams missed some opportunities to win or put it away at different times. We were bound to have one go our way at some point. I don’t know if I’ve done a very good job evidently of teaching late-game situations. We’re not basketball savvy and smart. We could have done some things different to ice it away. We could have hit some free throws and gotten some fouls. We took a few bad shots.
“I’m happy for the guys, but I don’t feel great.”
Signal fouled out with 15.4 seconds left after Triton’s Latrell McDougald had tracked down a rebound on a missed free throw by the Hawks. Cox snared the carom on Central’s last errant field goal attempt.
“I told them after the game it was a great game to be a part of, but it was just bad to be on this end,” said Central coach Will Gage. “Our guys battled to the end. When we went down by five at the very end, … (Signal) knocked another big one down. At the end, they just made more plays than we did.
“A number of our games have been close like this. Just like we’ve done the whole year, we got contributions from a number of different folks. I tried to emphasize to them that we’ve still got some basketball left to play. We’ve got to bounce back from this.”
The Trojans travel to Union Pines on Friday night (Feb. 9) and Triton makes the trip to Lee County.
The league tournament is Monday, Tuesday and Thursday next week with the championship games at Campbell’s Gore Arena.