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Call them the “surviving six.” Maybe the “sensational six.”
Regardless, the Fike High varsity boys basketball team, with just six players available (missing three because of flu and two more because of injuries), staggered archrival Hunt with a 68-65 3-A Big East Conference victory before a near-capacity turnout in the Fike High gym.
With junior Dashon Horne playing out of his mind, the Golden Demons all but locked up fourth place in the six-team league at 3-5 and improved to 10-11 against all foes. Fike ends the regular season with a rematch at Hunt next Thursday.
A long, rocky season continued for Hunt, which tumbled to 1-7 in the Big East and to 5-15 in all games. The Warriors travel to last-place Franklinton on Tuesday before next Thursday’s rematch with Fike.
Fike started junior Jaylen Ward, junior Elijahwon Cooper, junior Jeffery Dickerson, sophomore Trevor Atkinson and Javon Green, its only senior.
Once Horne abandoned his status as Fike’s only substitute, he proceeded to drill in a game-high 17 points, all in the last three quarters, and grabbed seven rebounds.
All six Demons responded with significant contributions. The ever-present Cooper fired in 15 points, Ward 11, Dickerson 11 and Atkinson 12. Green managed only two points but kept Fike close in the opening quarter with five rebounds.
“It was crazy!” Horne exclaimed. “It has been a rough month — I had a death in the family. I just tried to earn some minutes back. But I am not surprised about tonight; I have faith in my teammmates.”
Fike head coach Brent Secrest emerged understandably ecstatic.
“Absolutely amazing,” he said. “We’ve had a little motto the last four games — 32 minutes of hell. That’s what we did tonight; we laid it all on the line.
“They did it for their (absent) teammates as much as anybody. No matter how it ended up, I would have been proud of them. They could not have given much more. Gutsy!”
Of how it ended, Hunt head coach Wayne Hardy responded: “Tough break.”
The turning point occurred after three ties in the third quarter.
A three-point play from Ward, a basket off a steal from Cooper and Cooper’s finished drive at the buzzer vaulted Fike to a 52-43 margin after three quarters.
Hunt, behind senior Javion Farmer and junior Malcolm Coley, cut the deficit to 56-52 early in the final quarter. Ward stopped the flurry with a three-point play. With seniors Jameson Lucas and Zion May chipping in, the Warriors drew as close as four points and missed a layup off a steal.
Fike then paraded to the foul line to score the rest of its points. Atkinson’s two free throws with 45.4 seconds left pushed Fike’s margin to 63-57. Dickerson, Cooper and Ward added accurate free throws to keep Hunt away.
Still, Hunt closed the deficit to three points and missed a 3-point attempt that would have produced a tie before Cooper’s two free throws with nine seconds showing wrapped up the outcome at 68-63.
Fike buried 24 of 32 free throws as compared to 11 of 23 for the Warriors. The Demons valued the basketball to the turne of seven turnovers, while Hunt committed 16. The Warriors posted a 38-27 rebounding margin behind May’s 13 recoveries.
Farmer and Coley each tossed in 15 points for Hunt, and Taylor scored 10.
The Warriors forged their biggest lead of 18-12 on Taylor’s 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer. The Demons claimed their first lead at 19-18 on a 3-pointer from Horne, who poured in 13 second-quarter points. A four-point play from Horne helped Fike to a 31-30 halftime lead.
The Warriors, who utilized all 10 players in the opening quarter, managed three ties but never led again.
Wade 1, Coley 15, Taylor 10, Best, Rasberry 1, Farmer 15, May 8, Artis 2, Ward 5, Lucas 8.
Ward 11, Cooper 15, Dickerson 11, Horne 17, Green 2, Atkinson 12.
Score by quarters: