Editor’ note: This article was printed in last week’s paper.
By Lance Hickey
Marshall – A hot start for North Buncombe capped by a fast-charging Madison finish set the tone for a memorable rivalry matchup as Madison secured an improbable victory over a North Buncombe team without its star forward on Friday night.
North Buncombe scored first at the 6:40 mark as Micah Wilson connected on one of two free throws to give the BlackHawks the early 1-0 lead. Madison responded on a runner from Hugo Beretto-Eames to give the Patriots a one-point edge. North Buncombe then came alive on nifty layups by Spencer Harris and Wilson. JT Laws then connected from deep before an Andrew Young post move gave the BlackHawks a 10-4 lead. North Buncombe went on 9-1 run.
The BlackHawks run was capitalized on by a Malachi Hammond steal, leading to an emphatic two-handed slam to give North Buncombe a 12-6 led. The BlackHawks lead 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Madison had an answer of its own in the second quarter as Jeremiah Flores connected on a triple to get the Patriots within two as the BlackHawks held a slim 19-17 lead. Madison continued its push, tying the ballgame at 19 apiece on a shot from Jacob Lamb. The Patriots then took a 22-21 lead on an acrobatic layup by Elisha Barnette. At the half, the score was even at 26-26, as both teams finished the half strong.
The third quarter proved to be another duel as each team seemed determined to win its rivalry game. A Jack Ritchie spin layup gave the BlackHawks a 35-32 edge with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Gannon Kooles would finish the quarter capitalizing on a nearly-half court heave at the third quarter buzzer to get the Patriots within two points, as North Buncombe led 44-42 at the end of the third quarter.
On a three-point field goal from Dustin Price, the Madison Patriots took a 49-46 lead with three minutes remaining in the game.
Following a layup by Lamb, North Buncombe went on a 4-0 run, converting on two drives and finishes by Wilson and Ritchie. The BlackHawks tied the game at 53-53 with 1:40 left in the game.
North Buncombe then had a golden opportunity with under 40 seconds remaining to take a lead, but a heroic breakaway steal and driving score (plus the foul) from Lamb gave the Patriots a 55-53 lead with 30.2 seconds left in the game.
North Buncombe would not score on its final possession of the game as Madison completed a well-fought 55-53 victory over its bitter rival. The BlackHawks, who were without star forward Ren Dyer, and Patriots will meet one more time this season.
The BlackHawk girls also lost to Madison 54-53 in OT.