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Pardon the cliche, but the Hunt High varsity boys basketball team stole victory from the jaws of defeat in the Hunt High gym Friday night.
Trailing by eight points with three minutes remaining and by six with less than two minutes showing, the Warriors, playing at home for the first time in six games, rallied to a pulsating 55-52 victory against Smithfield-Selma of the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference.
Timely shotmaking from 6-foot-3 Hunt junior Shakei Hines and turnovers prompted by questioned calls settled the nail-biter.
The Warriors of the 3-A Big East Conference escaped with their seventh win against two losses, while Smithfield-Selma departed frustrated and 4-4.
The turnaround began with a double-dribble call that left the Spartans aghast.
Each team committed three turnovers the final couple of minutes, but Hunt managed to close the deficit to 52-51 when Hines drained a 3-point shot.
Following another turnover by the Spartans, Hunt seized the lead (53-52) for the first time since early in the second quarter on Hines’ jumper with 9.7 seconds remaining.
Senior Spartans sharp-shooter Anthony Council took the inbounds pass, dribbled the basketball the length of the court and, closely guarded, connected on a layup. Instead of Smithfield-Selma reclaiming the lead, the bucket was erased by a charging call.
The Warriors worked the ball inbounds and 6-4 senior Zion May was promptly fouled. May rattled in a pair of free throws with 8.2 seconds left for the final margin.
Hunt celebrated when a Spartans’ 3-point attempt from the left corner was long.
May, a force on the backboards against the smaller Spartans, fired in 19 points. Senior Malcolm Coley netted 11 points and Hines’ seven points were huge.
Hunt survived a 24-point performance from Council, who nailed five shots from 3-point range. Matthew Tyson added 12 points.
From a 5-5 tie, Hunt spurted to a 9-5 edge with strong play on the backboards. The Warriors owned a 11-8 edge after one quarter.
From that point, Hunt struggled to find defensive intensity and the Spartans effectively boxed out.
The score was knotted 11-11, 17-17 and 19-19 when the Spartans spurted out front 25-21. Smithfield-Selma increased the margin to 33-21 before Hunt managed the last four points of the first half.
The Spartans constructed the lead by swishing five 3-point attempts and going 8-for-8 at the foul line.
But Hunt became more defensive minded in the second half and the Spartans suffered from Hunt’s first-half malady of being unable to finish inside. The Warriors drew as close as 51-49 but failed on three chances to draw closer, tie or take the lead to end the third quarter.
The Spartans opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer from Keon Lassiter, a basket from Council and a free throw from Sha’Kerr Howard to build a 47-39 margin.
Hunt appeared destined to be victimized by its failed opportunities when the unexpected proved life-injecting.
Contrary to the first half, the Warriors finished.
Council 24, George, Lassiter 3, Hicks, Howard 9, Sanders, Tyson 12, Faulk 2, Barnes 2.
Hammonds, Wade, Coley 11, Taylor 4, Hines 7, Brunson 6, Clay, Jones 6, May 19, Bates 2.
Score by quarters:
Smithfield-Selma 8 25 8 11 — 52
Hunt 11 14 14 16 — 55