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The Fike High boys basketball team made its experience, at least at the varsity level, pay off in Friday’s county rivalry tilt at Beddingfield.
In remaining undefeated through five games with a 79-64 victory, the Golden Demons watched what was a 15-point lead early in the third quarter dwindle down to seven on a 3-point shot by Beddingfield junior Andrew Gattis.
But Fike opened the final quarter on an 11-4 spurt, including back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Kavaris Evans to help give the 3-A Big East Conference Demons sufficient breathing room the rest of the way. The Demons led by as many as 17 with under 90 seconds remaining, assuring them of their first 5-0 start since the 2013-14 edition opened with 13 straight victories. Beddingfield of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference fell to 1-1 after winning its opener in overtime at Southern Nash on Wednesday.
“We knew they would make a run,” Fike head coach Brent Secrest said of Beddingfield. “They’re too good of a team not to make a run. We knew eventually they were going to push the ball, and we got a little lazy and didn’t get back, and they got some easy ones on us. We relaxed for two, two-and-a-half minutes, and it almost got us.
Well, if “almost” involves a three-possession game.
Instead, Fike’s starting five of senior Jaylen Ward, senior Elijahwon Cooper, Evans, senior Jeffrey Dickerson and junior Moses Parker, in veteran form, steadied the Demons. As part of the run to open the fourth, Cooper, a silky-smooth point guard, converted a finger roll and Evans hit a pair of treys in succession.
Ward followed with another 3-pointer, and Parker finished a nifty feed from Cooper to boost Fike to a 69-54 fourth-quarter cushion.
That group opened the game and sent Fike to a 16-9 lead before Secrest, true to his five-in, five-out philosophy, sent the second unit in and left it 18-13 Fike after one quarter. There was occasional mix and matching, but for the most part, the Demons’ primary starting quintet was called upon to carry the load.
The results were that of a balanced group. Parker led all scorers with 20 points, while Cooper finished with 19. Evans had 15 and Ward chipped in 13, including a 6-for-6 showing from the foul line. Dickerson, termed the “calm” influence of the group by Secrest, had six. Evans picked up a pair of first-quarter fouls, but Fike didn’t break up its starting five.
The Demons pushed the pace in the second quarter to grab a double-digit lead, using a three-point play from Cooper, a Cooper layup and a putback from Dickerson. Dickerson’s steal and layup boosted the Demons to a 30-16 lead in the second quarter.
For Beddingfield, Gattis led the Bruins with 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Junior Avery Huggins supplied 11 points and Trevon Brantley, a senior, had 10. Brantley had 10 points, all in the second half, with eight coming in the third quarter to help pull the Bruins close entering the fourth.
“We tried to make it ugly there at the end,” Beddingfield head coach Joe Dvozenja said. “Because it’s all you can do when nothing’s really going right for you. We did a good job. The guys that went in there scrambled a lot and really got some good rebounds. They just murdered us on the boards.”
Fike led 37-24 at the half.
“I felt like everybody played a role,” Cooper said. “There was no arguing on the court and we’ve all got good chemistry together.”
And as Dvozenja concluded: “If you don’t do stuff well against a senior-laden team, you’re going to struggle.”
Ward 13, T.Atkinson 4, Evans 15, Cooper 19, Dickerson 6, Wilder 2, Parker 20, Lee, Phelps, K. Atkinson
Huggins 11, Brantley 10, Best 2, Hutcherson, Coley 2, Speight 9, Highsmith 9, C. Williams, Best 2, Gattis 13, O. Williams, Grant 2, Davis 4.
Score by quarters:
Fike 18 19 18 24 — 79
Beddingfield 13 11 24 16 — 64