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Down to one final opportunity to end a lengthy losing streak before the holiday break, the Hunt High varsity boys basketball team effectively reversed its course on the county rivalry stage Friday night.
How did the Warriors cast away a five-game skid with a convincing 83-53 rout of Beddingfield? From the outset, Hunt took a page out of Farmville Central’s book — the team that handed the Warriors two of their losses during the aforementioned streak.
While it wasn’t executed with the same blink-of-an-eye speed as the defending North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A champions, Hunt’s transition game wasn’t required to be such against the Bruins. Instead, the 3-A Big East Conference Warriors (3-5) took control early, decking Beddingfield with an early 17-2 run after the Bruins scored the game’s opening basket on a jumper in the lane by junior Kaleb Harris.
The massive Hunt run was spearheaded by Beddingfield turnovers and the Warriors’ propensity to push the basketball quickly after limiting Beddingfield to one-and-done opportunities at the basket in the first quarter. En route to placing four Warriors in double figures, sophomore Ty’Chaun Clay, senior Shaq Wade and senior Shakei Hines opened the running lanes that left little doubt as to the outcome once the first quarter ended.
Beddingfield (2-3) of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference was ill prepared to keep up. Hunt got to the free-throw line in the lopsided first quarter, making 9 of 11 tosses in that span. The fouls accumulated on key Beddingfield contributors — including seniors Avery Huggins and C.J. Williams with a pair — and the Warriors opened the second quarter in the 1-and-1.
“That’s what we really needed, was practice time,” Hunt head coach Dwight Taylor said. “We dug in, went back to the basics and did some basic stuff and got some clearer understanding of roles. It showed tonight, so it’s good to practice hard and then it show in the game.”
Wade, one of the arbiters of transition and a body that demanded respect below the free-throw line, led the way with 16 points. Hines had 14 and Clay had 11. Sophomore Davon Jones had 15 and was a presence altering shots around the rim.
Hunt led 27-8 after the first quarter and extended the margin to 43-20 at halftime. In the second quarter, the Bruins attempted to find a spark with a number of reserves on the floor. Huggins, after being held scoreless in the first half, had all 15 of his total in the second half as the Bruins found more of a solid footing in the third quarter.
However, the Warriors enjoyed their biggest lead of 32 at 83-51 on the final of three 3-pointers by junior Blaize Keen, all in the fourth quarter.
“We had a very poor effort in the first half,” Beddingfield head coach Jeremy Howard said. “We just didn’t communicate at all. They were a step faster than us at every position to start with. We had some chances early, when we broke their press, to execute. And then, we just couldn’t put it in the basket. So it could have went eight points that way, and it went eight points their way. And the next thing you know, we’re staring at a 23-point hole at halftime.”
Senior Jatavis Highsmith had 14 points for the Bruins in showing a willingness to attack the Warriors off the dribble.
“We didn’t come out composed,” Highsmith said. “They jumped on us, and we didn’t come out playing defense.”
The contest was Hunt’s final game before hosting the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament, beginning Dec. 26 against Smithfield-Selma. Beddingfield will play host to Fike next Friday before reprising the matchup in two weeks in the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament opener for both squads.
Huggins 15, Highsmith 14, Edwards 2, C. Williams 2, Coley 6, O. Williams 1, Harris 8, Hutcherson, Dove, Taylor, Knight, Sauls 3, Davis 2.
Clay 11, Wade 16, Keen 9, Taylor 9, Hines 14, Carmon, Horne 6, Jones 14, Barron 2, Joyner 2.
Score by quarters:
Beddingfield 8 12 10 23 — 53
Hunt 27 16 11 29 — 83