Carver was in the midst of its worst swoon of the season on Friday night at Shaw.
In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Tigers trailed by 14 at halftime and were without one of their starters, Jawon Pass, who is on a recruiting visit to Louisville over the weekend.
Just as their region hopes, not to mention their hopes of strong postseason position, slipping further and further away, they woke up.
Stefan Harris scored 11 of his game-high 23 points in the final quarter, helping Carver to erase a big deficit and escape the night with a 70-66 victory over the Raiders. The win tied the two teams in the loss column in the Region 1-5A standings, further muddying an alright tight race.
After a poor first half for Carver, it appeared Shaw would be cruising to a win and setting up a showdown for first-place against LaGrange on Saturday. Instead, coach Warren Beaulah issued a challenge to his players in the locker room.
“I kept telling our guys they were outworking us,” Beaulah said. “I told them that Shaw was a better team and had a sense of urgency that we didn’t have. They told me they weren’t better, and I asked them to prove it. They accepted the challenge.”
Trailing 42-28 after two quarters, the Tigers came out and outscored Shaw 20-10 in the third to cut it to four points going into the fourth quarter. The Tigers held a 22-14 advantage in the final quarter to come back for a four-point win.
They leaned heavily on Harris in the closing moments, as he scored six straight for the Tigers to give them their first lead since the first quarter. Shaw led 60-54 after a bucket by Dakeen Diaz, but R.J. Cummings got things started for the Tigers by knocking down a pair of free throws to make it 60-56. Harris followed a missed jumper with a lay-in to cut the lead to two, and went back to the rim for another kiss off the glass less than 30 seconds later to tie it.
After Diaz split a pair of free throws, Harris put it through the basket again to make it 62-61. Carver never relinquished the lead.
It was fitting, too, that Harris was the one at the line with 11 seconds left, putting a pair of free throws in to extend a two-point lead to four.
“He’s one of the guys I thought was really making a difference early in the season who had kind of faded a little bit for us,” Beaulah said. “He answered the challenge for us, too, though.”
In addition to Harris, Rahmir Nelson added 10 points for Carver. Shaw was led by Diaz’s 21 points, but no other Raider reached double-figures.
Now, both teams have three losses in the region, one back of LaGrange, which has two. Beaulah said that with Pass missing this weekend, he and the other coaches felt like they would be alright if they could just make it through this weekend. The Tigers travel to Harris County on Saturday.
CARVER GIRLS 72, SHAW 38: The Carver girls topped Shaw 72-38 behind a 21-point effort from Alexis Burns. The win kept the Lady Tigers undefeated in region play and improved their overall record to 19-3.
Alycia Reese added 11 points for Carver. Shaw was led by 17 points from Kayla Bonilla.
Carver travels to Harris County on Saturday, while Shaw hosts LaGrange.
Friday at Shaw
Carver 17 11 20 22—70
Shaw 17 25 10 14—66
Stefan Harris 23, Rahmir Nelson 10, Calhoun 9, Melvin 8, Cummings 7, Wilson 6, Payne 3, Madden 2, James 2.
Dakeen Diaz 21, Hicks 9, Shakespeare 8, Paulding 6, Parker 6, Knight 4, Webb 4, Martin 3, Brown 3, Porter-Wilson 2.
Records: Carver, 15-7, 6-3; Shaw, 16-7, 7-3. Next: Carver, Saturday at Harris County; Shaw, Saturday vs. LaGrange at home.
Friday at Shaw
Carver 14 29 16 13—72
Shaw 4 11 8 15—38
Alexis Burns 21, Alycia Reese 11, Martin 7, Smith 6, Holloway 6, Givens 5, Love-Hill 4, Riles 3, Scott 2, Milner 2, Shaw 2, Archie 2, Mabry 1.
Kayla Bonilla 17, Snead 7, Bagsby 4, Jackson 4, Dumas 4, Warner 2.
Records: Carver, 19-3, 9-0; Shaw, 6-17, 1-9. Next: Carver, Saturday at Harris County; Shaw, Saturday vs. LaGrange at home.