Bengals rally past Cougars

Jan. 27, 2013 @ 02:17 AM

As the Greensboro Day team and fans celebrated on the court, all the High Point Christian boys could do in the aftermath of a disappointing loss was wonder: What went wrong? And, really, it wasn’t much.

The No. 4 Cougars built a 16-point halftime lead, but couldn’t stop the No. 1 Bengals as they rallied in the second half — thanks in large part to a 12-0 run midway through the fourth quarter — to beat High Point Christian 61-58 on Saturday in Greensboro.

“Obviously, we’re not very happy,” Cougars coach Brandon Clifford said. “As coaches, we’re kind of trying to figure out how we lost the game. We played a good ballgame. … Little things turned the tide of the game, and we didn’t respond well to it. Credit them for being tough enough to climb back.”

After shooting 62 percent in the first half in twice building a 16-point lead, HPCA shot just 30 percent in the second half. It still clung to a 43-36 lead heading to the fourth, but, with its two starting big men in foul trouble, it was a tenuous grasp.

The Cougars (17-4, 1-2 PACIS 3A) led 49-44 with 4:03 when GDS (28-0, 3-0 PACIS) went on its run to lead 56-49 with 1:10 left. Jonathan Terry scored seven of the 12 points — plus Christian Hairston had a big dunk against a defender — to key the run.

“We hit some shots,” longtime Bengals coach Freddy Johnson said. “We hit some shots and Christian Hairston went off and had a great second half for us. He was non-existent in the first half. Second half, he showed up. And they only scored 22 second-half points, so I think we played great defense.”

HPCA did pull within three in the final minute and, after gaining possession off a five-second call, did have an opportunity to tie. But it missed a two-point jumper, and GDS sealed it by hitting three of four free throws.

Diante Baldwin scored 14 points to lead the Cougars, who scored eight of the game’s first 10 points to help lead 19-11 after one quarter and eight straight points to open the second to lead 27-11. Jackson Kent also had 11 points while Joey McLean added 10.

Terry finished with 20 points while Hairston added 14 for the Bengals, who shot 21 percent in the first half and 65 percent in the second.

“I’m very happy with my kids; I thought we competed,” Clifford said. “It was just one of those things that got away from us, and we’ll just have to figure out how. … We were able to play and make shots. Then, our big guys got fouls early in the third quarter and the tempo of the game changed. Obviously, I’m frustrated because I felt like our team played well enough to win. But it is what it is.”

HPCA plays again Tuesday at crosstown rival and No. 2 in the state Wesleyan Christian.

In the girls game, No. 2 Greensboro Day rolled to a 67-23 win over High Point Christian.

Hailey Riffe scored 18 points while Jaimey Fankhauser added four to lead the Cougars, who trailed 34-7 at halftime. Tamera Thorpe had 22 points for the Bengals.

“They did everything well,” HPCA coach Jason Waller said of GDS. “They just beat us up and down the court. We tried our best to slow them down, but that’s a hard thing to do, and they make so few mistakes. We had a good first quarter, but we just got winded.”