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Kinston rallies, but falls to Word of God in 2OT
December 8, 2011North Carolina
By Keith Spence, Kinston Free Press
KINSTON - Kinston boys’ basketball coach Wells Gulledge summed it up best after his Vikings’ heavyweight bout with perennial power Raleigh Word of God Wednesday at Viking Gym.
“That’s a heck of a basketball team we just played,” the veteran coach said.
Well, then Kinston has a heck of a team, too.
Although the Vikings didn’t win, they matched the Holy Rams basket-for-basket and spectacular play for spectacular play before falling 84-82 in a double-overtime barnburner.
This performance came from a Kinston team that has had just one practice with its full compliment of players since football season ended Saturday.
“It’s a fact that we’ve had only one practice but we won’t use that as an excuse,” Gulledge said. “We came within an eyelash of beating one of the best teams in the state. Our guys are disappointed, which tells me they expected to win this game.”
For most of the first half, the Vikings (1-2) not only didn’t look like they were going to win, it appeared they might get run out of their own gym.
Word of God, which started a pair of Kinston transfers in Jaquan Brownridge and Donte Reynolds, scored the game’s first six points, built a 21-9 advantage after one quarter and led by as many as 15 in the second period.
“I came out really hyped up and the team just followed suit,” said Brownridge, who finished with 14 points before fouling out in the first overtime. “The guys knew Donte and I were coming home and they wanted to make it special for us.”
With Brownridge scoring a team-high nine first half points, the Holy Rams led by 10 at the break before Kinston started to find its rhythm on offense.
“We didn’t have any pace and we settled for too many 3s in the first half,” Gulledge said. “We did a lot of barking but not a lot of biting.”
The biting started after intermission.
The Vikings trimmed the lead to three, 55-52, after three quarters, using a ferocious man-to-man defense to force 10 Word of God turnovers in the frame.
When Josh Dawson buried a short jumper then Chris Hall stole the ensuing inbounds pass and converted a layup, the score was tied at 63-63 with 2:55 to play.
It was the first tie of the game.
A three-point play by Kinston’s Nykiel Williams re-tied the contest at 66 with 1:13 left, and 10 seconds later the Vikings got the ball back on Word of God’s 24th turnover of the game.
Following a timeout, Kinston ran over a minute off the clock but failed to get off a shot, turning the ball over themselves with 1.5 seconds on the clock and forcing the first overtime.
Kinston again had the last chance in the first extra session.
After Denzel Keys knotted the score at 73 with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, Word of God again turned the ball over to the Vikings.
This time, Kinston got the shot off, a decent look by Keyes from almost the same spot he had tied the score earlier. This attempt bounded away harmlessly, setting up 4 more minutes of extra time.
“All you can ask is to have the ball with a chance to win at the end of the game,” Gulledge said. “We had that opportunity twice, and did everything right but make the shot.”
Kinston’s luck finally ran out in the second overtime.
Word of God scored the first five points then held on to win from the free throw line.
Leading 78-73, the Holy Rams converted 6 of 8 free throws to close out the victory.
Reynolds, who also fouled out for Word of God, added eight points and 12 rebounds in his return to Kinston.
“It was great to get a chance to play again in front of my family and friends,” Reynolds said. “It was even sweeter because we won.”
Despite having just one practice and giving away several inches to the Holy Rams’ trio of superlative inside players, Kinston’s Keyes was the player of the game with 21 points and 12 boards.
“Denzel gave us an amazing effort,” Gulledge said. “As he gets his basketball legs back he should be even better. That goes for the whole team. We’re still getting acclimated to each other. Once we do that, we should be just fine.”
Word of God 21 20 14 11 7 11—84
Kinston 9 22 21 14 7 9—82
HOLY RAMS — Camden Scott 16, Shane Whitfield 15, Jaquan Brownridge 14, Stavion Allen 12, Newkirk 9, Reynolds 8, Lewis 6, Robertson 4, Miner, Crumpler.
VIKINGS (1-2) — Denzel Keyes 21, Josh Dawson 20, Nykiel Williams 12, Hall 8, A. Keyes 8, Ingram 7, Lopez 3, Taylor 3, Bradshaw.