James Taylor hit a high note for Western Harnett as he scored the winning basket at Triton with 14 seconds left on Friday night.
That left the Hawks singing the blues with their fourth straight loss after a 3-0 start in the Tri-County Six 3-A Conference.
Western withstood two shots on the Triton’s last possession to take a 58-57 varsity boys basketball win on Senior Night for the hosts.
Lahaina “LaLa” Bell poured in 40 points as Western took a 49-31 victory in the varsity girls game.
The Triton junior varsity boys won 61-41 to improve to 16-3 overall and 7-0 in league play.
Three of the defeats in the Hawks’ streak have been by a total of four points.
Triton’s downturn began with a 53-51 home loss to Lee County on Jan. 27. The Hawks are the only team to have beaten Southern Lee in league play, downing the Cavaliers 68-57 at home on Jan. 26. The skid continued with a 58-38 loss at Southern Lee on Jan. 29. Triton was edged 52-51 on Jan. 31 at Union Pines.
The most recent one-point setback resulted as Kalil Hodges pulled up to the right of the lane after each team had taken timeouts with 10.3 seconds to go. Hodges’ shot was rebounded by Triton teammate Shiquan Cox, who sought to go back up, but his shot was impeded in a cluster. Cox expected a whistle, but the clock ran out and the Eagles were energized on a night when their top point scorers were relatively quiet.
“Our two all-conference returners, Jamar (Butler) and Darnell (Carver), point production-wise tonight, combined for 11 points which is probably 15 points below what they combine for normally,” said Western coach Seth Womble. “Our other guys stepped up tonight.”
Anthony Brewington was accurate from outside and finished with 15 points. Tre Richardson had 12 points and James Taylor tallied 10. Carver had nine points and Tobias Dillard scored eight. Butler and Sam Tolbert finished with two points each.
Dillard was a factor on the defensive end, blocking and changing shots.
“Tobias, our center has been blocking four or five shots a game,” Womble said. “Every time we needed a stop, we seemed to go get it and every time we needed a big bucket, we got it.”
Triton extended its defense late in the game
“Their pressure, man-to-man-wise, our offense was a little stagnant,” Womble said. “I got a little worried down the stretch.”
Cox scored on a return pass after inbounding to Chrishaun Henry for Triton’s first lead of the second half at 47-46 with 5:49 left to play.
The last lead for the Hawks came with 26.9 seconds to go as Henry dropped the second of two free throws to put Triton ahead 57-56.
Taylor got free for a left-handed lay-up with 14 seconds left for the final margin. Tre Richardson had the assist.
“They’re a well-coached team,” Womble said. “It was a close game at our place last time. We knew what to expect at this place this time. I’m proud of my guys.”
Cox had 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals the Hawks. Henry had 11 points and 16 rebounds. Maurice Williams scored 10. Hodges totaled seven points, five rebounds and four assists. Christion Green contributed six points and Travion Sanders added three.
Western led 17-13 at the end of the first quarter and was on top 34=30 at the half. The Eagles took a 43-41 advantage into the final period.
“It was back and forth,” said Triton boys coach T.J. Morrison. “Nobody got too far ahead. We’re just really hurting right now. It’s a tough little stretch. … I think the effort was there. We’re playing hard. We’re getting the ball in good spots, getting it in the high post and looking for each other. They had a kid that’s blocking a lot of shots. … It just hurts.”
Western had an agonizing 79-76 loss at home to the Hawks on Jan. 10 as Triton outscored the Eagles 30-15 in the fourth quarter.
Although the most recent meeting came on Senior Night for Triton, the Hawks (12-9, 3-4 TC6) host Union Pines in a make-up game on Monday night, giving the upperclassmen a chance to win their last home game of the regular season.
Western (9-9, 3-4) hosts Harnett Central on Monday night. Those teams are 1-1 this season with Central winning the first league matchup 77-68 at home on Wednesday.
Fans for both teams roared when Danielle Brady scored for the Triton girls with 14 seconds left for her second basket of the season.
The issue had long been decided at that point and Bell was the main reason.
“Everybody was moving,” Bell said. “Defense was going great. Offense was working out well.”
Ana-Beth Brewer had nine points for the Lady Hawks, who slipped to 5-16 overall and 2-5 in the league. Anayah Lockamy added seven points for Triton.
Western’s girls are 5-13 for the season and 2-5 in the Tri-County after avenging a 52-43 home loss to Triton on Jan. 10 in which Bell went out in the fourth quarter with a cramp.
“We haven’t had a good season this year,” said Bell, a junior. “This game and another game could possibly give us a chance to play in the playoffs. … It’s been 10 years since we’ve been to the playoffs. We’re trying our best to get there.”
Both teams were playing for the third time in the week.
“Our girls, they just came in ready to work hard,” said Western coach Hallie Hales. “It’s been a long week, so they were tired but they came in in sync with each other. They knew they were going to have to play together and work hard and that’s what they did.
” … (Bell) was a huge impact for us offensively. Several girls really stepped up their defensive game so that helped a lot.”
Triton girls coach Keith Howard customarily has his teams in playoff contention.
“This season is not going as expected,” Howard said. “I just think we owe it to ourselves to work hard and get better. Hopefully, we can finish this season on a strong note. I just believe in my heart we’re a better basketball team than what we’ve been displaying to our fans and to ourselves. They’ve got to realize they got to take ownership of that and we’ve got to come to practice and work hard to keep getting better and finish the season strong.”