Overhills swept varsity basketball contests against Triton on Monday, with both the boys and girls teams winning to advance to the championship of the Harnett County Tipoff Tournament, hosted by Harnett Central.
A pair of late scores from senior Jade Butcher and freshman Madison Cypher lifted Overhills to a 44-40 girls win over Triton.
First-year Overhills girls coach Nick Lewis cited aggressive rebounding as a key factor.
“We’ve been preaching this whole time we’ve been practicing about being aggressive on the boards,” Lewis said. “We don’t have much size, but when we’re on the boards, I think we can be really good. It helped us tonight, especially in that fourth quarter.”
Despite the loss, Triton coach Wendy Simmons was pleased with the level of play in relation to how last year’s team started.
“I was proud of the way we played,” Simmons said. “Of course, there’s definitely some things we have to work on. But compared to the way we played last year in the first set of this, I thought we did a really good job.”
Butcher had 11 points and Cypher had 10 points to pace the Jaguars (1-0).
Maaika Dones had nine points. Shetarra Page and Elizabeth Mitchell had four points apiece. Janiya Gary-Cole, Natalie Johnson and Jekhia Robinson had two points apiece.
Senior Zoie Starling had 13 points and junior Kaila Cooney had 11 points, five rebounds and three steals to lead the Hawks (0-1).
Abby Hood had six points, two blocks and three steals. Brittany Ireland had five points and four rebounds. Tristan Ennis had two points and seven rebounds before leaving the game with an apparent ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Anastasia McDonald had two points, five rebounds and four assists. Haley Tew had one point.
Late in the competitive game, Cooney hit a three-pointer to tie the game 40-40, with 1:17 left in the fourth quarter.
But after a timeout, Butcher scored to put Overhills back in front, and, after Triton’s attempt to answer missed, Cypher scored again to extend the lead. After another empty possession, Triton started trying to foul, but did not have enough team fouls to put Overhills at the line and time ran out on the Hawks.
“Any time it’s a close game, I want Jade Butcher on the floor,” Lewis said. “She’s like the coach on the floor. I trust her with everything that we do. She’s just a great player to have.”
Overhills held off a strong late surge from Triton to take a 64-56 win in the boys game.
“I thought the key to our success tonight was that our guys competed and played hard,” said first-year Overhills boys coach Joseph Easley. “I thought that Damion (Robinson) was a difference maker in the post. He altered a lot of shots and got a lot of rebounds for us. His presence down low and then our guards flying around the perimeter and just making some things happen. It wasn’t a pretty game, in my opinion, but I thought both teams competed extremely hard and I’m just glad that we were able to find a way to get it done tonight.”
Triton boys coach T.J. Morrison said the Hawks missed too many opportunities and had too many turnovers.
“We had a couple of plays in the second half,” Morrison said. “You’re down two with a possession. You’re down four with two free throws and the ball. You’re down 10 with four free throws and the ball. A lot of possessions that missed opportunities. I’m actually surprised we were in the game. We came in at halftime with 18 turnovers and they had 15 offensive boards and we were down four, I think. I don’t even know how we were in the game at that point. And I’m sure we had close to 30 turnovers (32 total) at the end. Not a very good effort to still be in the game. But their kids made plays and had a lot of energy.”
The Jaguars (1-0) were led by a pair of seniors. Zach Lowery had 21 points and Jase Ford had 10 points.
“Zach makes my job very easy,” Easley said. “We put in a very basic press breaker and we’ve got very strong guards that are able to beat it. I think it’s going to be hard for any team to stay in front of Zach. He just does a good job of leading us offensively. He did a great job of creating for himself and others tonight.”
Damion Robinson had eight points. Shyheim McKoy had seven points. Nakai Brown had six points. Jordan Davis had five points. Tyree Camp had four points. Cam’ron Sias had three points.
Junior Ladrabious Eason and senior Shaiheim Strickland each had a double-double to lead the Hawks (0-1). Eason had 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks and Strickland had 12 points and 17 rebounds.
“I was pleased Saturday when (Eason) was pretty physical in the scrimmages,” Morrison said. “I had not really seen that out of him at practice. So, hopefully he’ll get a little better every day, a little more physical and a little more confident and help us.”
Dalen Thompson had eight points. Travion Sanders had five points and four rebounds. Jamari Amerson had five points. Jaden Geddie had four points. Myshon Smith had two points and four rebounds. Josiah Lett had two points and two blocks. Keionta Burnett and Malihk Giles had two points apiece.
Morrison was pleased with Geddie’s play on defense off of the bench in the second half.
“That’s kind of Jaden’s game,” Morrison said. “He’s got a lot of energy and a lot of effort. Really good defender. A little shaky on the offensive end sometimes, but he is a good defender and a good athlete, so we’ve got to find a way to work him in and see if we can get him some minutes.”
Overhills outscored Triton in every quarter: 17-15 in the first, 14-12 in the second, 16-13 in the third and 17-16 in the fourth.
Late in the third, Overhills had built its lead to 12, at 47-35. After a pair of Geddie free throws cut it to 10, Strickland drew a foul and, in the aftermath, a technical foul was issued to Lowery. Strickland made both of his shots and Thompson made one of the two technical free throws to cut the lead to seven. And Geddie scored early in the fourth to cut it to five.
Midway through the fourth, a technical foul was issued to Overhills’ bench. It was the second against the Jaguar bench, meaning an automatic ejection for Easley. Assistant Derrick Austin assumed the role of head coach for the remainder of the game.
“We’re going to be an emotional team and I’m an emotional coach,” Easley said. “I think what we’ve got to do is be very careful about how we’re going to use that emotion. We need to make sure we’re going to use it in a positive way and we don’t do things where we give away points to the other team like we did tonight. The three technical fouls are unacceptable and we’ve got to work on getting it fixed and address it moving forward. We’ve got to try to make sure our passion and energy is on the court, helping us win ball games and not doing things that hurt us.”
With the lead still at five, Overhills went on an 8-2 run to pull away from the Hawks.
Triton’s girls will play against Western Harnett in the girls consolation game at Harnett Central at 6:00 on Tuesday. The boys will meet the loser of Tuesday’s Western Harnett at Harnett Central game in the boys consolation game at Harnett Central at 5:00 on Wednesday.
Overhills advances to both championship games at Harnett Central on Wednesday. The girls will meet the host Trojans at 6:30 and the boys will meet the winner of Tuesday’s Western Harnett at Harnett Central game at 8. Overhills has won the last two girls championships and the last six boys championships.