Bison boys rally past Bulldogs
High Point Central took coach Patrick Battle’s halftime message to heart. Thomasville coach Tony Clark believed his Bulldogs didn’t listen very well to what he had to say at the break.
As a result of the shift in attitudes, the Bison roared back from a 14-point halftime deficit and posted a 70-61 victory in the first round of boys action in the Sheetz Holiday Christmas Classic of High Point on Thursday at Southwest Guilford.
The Bison (6-4) advance to a semifinal game at 7:30 p.m. today in the main gym. Thomasville will play in a consolation bracket game at 7:30 p.m. in the annex gym at Southwest.
“We didn’t do things any different in the second half,” Battle said. “We were taking the same shots but they were going in. What changed was our mentality. We just played as hard as we could and that was the difference.”
That wasn’t the case in Battle’s opinion as the Bison played sloppily and fell behind 32-18 at the break. After hearing Battle’s speech at the half, the Bison tore into the Bulldogs lead out of the gate, scoring 32 points in the third quarter to take a 50-47 lead going into the fourth quarter.
“I can’t tell you exactly what I said,” Battle said. “I challenged them to play as hard as they could and they answered the challenge.”
Central quickly erased most of Thomasville’s lead at the start of the third quarter by hitting four straight 3-point shots, the first two out of the corner by Jamal Thompson, one from Michal Seals and one from Rahmon Barnes. The burst drew Central within two with 5:50 left in the period.
“We told the kids that Central has some good 3-point shooters and that they could come back,” Clark said after his team dropped to 3-5. “I don’t think we listened very well. But, hopefully this will be a lesson that will help us when we get into conference play.”
Central took the lead at 38-36 with 3:44 left in the quarter on the strength of seven straight points by Juwan Fogge, who went to the bench after picking up his fourth foul a few seconds later. Fogge didn’t return until the middle of the fourth but his time on the bench didn’t slow the Bison.
They didn’t trail after falling behind 42-40 briefly and finally took control in the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run to go up 63-53 with to up 63-53 with a minute to go. The Bison cemented the outcome at the free-throw line, hitting 6 of 7 free throws — three by Ahmad Langham and the last four by Barnes, who led Central with 17 points. Thompson added 15 and Fogge had 14.
Battle said the 32-point third quarter wasn’t the Bison’s best quarter of the year but it “was our best comeback.”
They were forced to rally after giving the ball away in falling behind 9-2 and not aggressively attacking Thomasville’s 2-3 zone in the first half.
“We were just nonchalant the way we played and the way we attacked their zone in the first half,” Battle said.
Latrele Skeen led the bulldogs with 12 points while Demoris Payne added 10.