As the third quarter of the contest between Central High and Northside in the Shaw Christmas tournament semifinals came to a close, Red Devils high-flyer Anthony Moore rose up for dunks on back-to-back plays, the second coming over a defender and eliciting a loud cheer from the crowd.
Not long after, with less than four minutes remaining in the game and Central clinging to a five-point lead, teammate Devin Pugh did the same, bringing the crowd to its feet and Northside to its knees.
From that moment, Central never relinquished its momentum as it finished strong for a 62-52 victory to advance to Tuesday’s tournament final.
“Devin Pugh had an electrifying dunk, and I think that kind of changed the game for us,” Central coach Bobby Wright said. “It kind of gave us that edge over the final minutes.”
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The win preserved the Red Devils undefeated record (12-0), which will be put on the line against Spencer in the finale.
Monday’s game was far from decided until, perhaps, Pugh’s dunk, which gave Central a seven-point lead, its biggest of the night at the time. Northside hung around for the better part of three and a half quarters, holding the lead on seven occasions, though never by more than two.
Trailing 36-34 with under three minutes to go in the third, Central went on a 8-0 run to close the quarter, highlighted by Moore’s two electrifying dunks. The Patriots got back within three points on three different occasions in the fourth, but couldn’t get closer than that.
“My hats off to Northside,” Wright said. “They have a great ballclub. We’re extremely happy to get out of here with a win, and I can’t say enough about what our guys were able to do.”
Pugh finished with a game-high 19 points for Central, while Moore followed with 13. They also got 11 points from sophomore Tre Todd, who gave the team a spark late when it was trying to close the door.
“I was proud of our young guys like (Todd),” Wright said. “He gave us a big spark late.”
Northside was led in the loss by Davion Thomas (15 points), Phillip Whittington (14 points) and Caleb Baker (10 points).
The boys finale will be played at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Carver.
Northside girls 49, Columbus 42
Northside coach Candace Turner and assistant Lindsay Johnson were all smiles as they left the locker room following their semifinal against Columbus on Monday. Before they left, the cheers of the players could be heard clearly to the end of the hall.
The team’s 49-42 win over the Lady Blue Devils put it in the Shaw tournament final for the first time in Turner’s five years with the team. On Tuesday, the Lady Patriots will have a chance to take it a step further when they face Kendrick in the finale.
Only, Turner isn’t focused on that just yet.
“We’re not thinking about it,” she said when asked about the challenge of facing a team like Kendrick, which is known for its fast-paced offense and high-pressure defense. “We know the bull’s-eye isn’t on our backs.”
Whether it was on their backs on Monday didn’t show, as they went ahead by 12 at the end of the third quarter and withstood a late Columbus run to win.
“It’s exciting,” Turner said of the win. “The girls are taking this time to prepare for region play. They’re practicing executing their role, and they’ve all bought in. I was proud of the 32-minute effort.”
Taylor Jakes scored 19 to lead Northside, while Columbus was led by Tatyah Wyatt’s 12 points and Jacqueria Gunter’s 10.
The final between Kendrick and Northside will be played at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Carver.
Spencer boys 65, Harris County 56
The Greenwave suffered through a slow start, falling behind early against Harris County. Strong defense in the second quarter, however, got Spencer back on track as it went on to top the Tigers 65-56 in the boys Shaw tournament semifinals on Monday at Carver.
With the win, Spencer advances to the tournament final, which will be played against Central at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Carver.
Spencer was led by four players in double figures. Deandre Hubbard scored 17, Tarvaraska Davis 16, Kionus Bush 15 and Kimani Bush 14.
Deion Whitaker led the Tigers with 21 points, while Tae Crowder contributed 18 in the losing effort.
Kendrick girls 65, Central 62
Despite trailing late, the Lady Cherokees pulled out a three-point victory over Central in the Shaw tournament semifinals on Monday at Carver.
Kendrick was paced by Kahlia Lawrence’s 32 points and Deja Cheatham’s 15. Kedsha Glance and Erin Spencer were both in double figures for the Lady Red Devils, scoring 16 and 10 points, respectively.
The Lady Cherokees will face Northside in the girls final at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Carver.
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Monday at Carver
Kendrick 19 15 9 22—65
Central 13 14 14 21—62
Kahlia Lawrence 32, Deja Cheatham 15, Thompson 7, Jones 3, Sales 2, Jack 2, Baker 2, McKissic 2.
Kedsha Glance 16, Erin Spencer 10, Hicks 8, Ficklin 6, Faniel 6, Vance 6, Hickson 6, Banks 3, Howard 1.
Monday at Carver
Spencer 17 14 16 18—65
Harris County 23 5 15 13—56
Deandre Hubbard 17, Tarvaraska Davis 16, Kionus Bush 15, Kimani Bush 14, Martin 2, Smith 1.
Harris County (56)
Deion Whitaker 21, Tae Crowder 18, Holloway 5, Northern 4, Scott 3, Harris 2, Carter 2, Terrell 1.
Monday at Carver
Northside 10 12 13 14—49
Columbus 8 6 9 19—42
Taylor Jakes 19, C. Jakes 8, Ja. Herndon 6, Je. Herndon 4, Gahagan 4, Brantley 4, Burgos 3, Davis 1.
Tatyah Wyatt 12, Jacqueria Gunter 10, Lloyd 7, Floyd 4, Manning 4, McIntosh 3, Hayes 2.
Monday at Carver
Northside 13 14 10 15—52
Central 15 12 15 20—62
Davion Thomas 15, Phillip Whittington 14, Caleb Baker 10, Hopkins 7, Richardson 4, McGlan 2.
Devin Pugh 19, Anthony Moore 13, Tre Todd 11, Rodgers 9, Igus 8, Lewis 2.