White Knoll has not been able to find the winning formula in recent years against Lexington.
But after defeating the Wildcats in late November during a preseason tip-off tournament, the Timberwolves have renewed confidence against their rival.
Emarius Logan scored eight points from the free-throw line in the final 51 seconds to break open a tight game that gave White Knoll a 59-49 victory Friday night. It was a Region 5-4A showdown that brought the teams into a tie for fourth place in the region.
“When we beat them (earlier), it gave us motivation that we knew we could beat them,” Logan said. “The last couple of years, we went into the game hanging our heads low, not thinking we could win. After beating them early, it was a big boost coming into this game.”
The confidence showed in the final three minutes when the Timberwolves (7-11, 2-3) closed on a 11-2 run to seal the deal.
Lexington’s Nelson Spence, who scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half, completed a 3-point play to bring the Wildcats within one at 48-47 with 3:42 remaining.
Then things began falling White Knoll’s way. Logan and Najee Garvin connected on 11-of-13 free throws in the final 2:45 while Lexington went 0-for-5 from the foul line and had a shot blocked by T.J. Knight during that same time frame.
“We had first-half jitters, but settled down in the second half and played solid basketball,” White Knoll coach Bret Jones said. “I thought our pressure in the man-to-man got us going in the second and third quarter. It’s good for our school and our kids to get a big win over Lexington.”
The collapse down the stretch left Lexington coach Bailey Harris frustrated. It’s the second straight region loss for the Wildcats (14-7, 2-3).
“We came out and played a great third quarter, built a six-point lead, but the last three possessions we just throw it away and don’t make good decisions,” Harris said. “Then we miss five straight free throws there at the end. It’s frustrating. You have to step up and make the easy plays and free throws and we didn’t do it and they did.”
Lexington held big leads in the second and third quarters, but they were wiped out each time to be tied at the half and the end of the third quarter.
It was tied at 21 at the half.
Spence almost single-handily kept the Wildcats in it during the third quarter. He scored 11 of the 13 Lexington points in that quarter, and gave Lexington six-point cushion at one point. Garvin and Logan combined to score the final six points of the quarter to have it tied at 34 entering the final eight minutes.
Sophomore Miles Mathis, who hit four 3-pointers in scoring 14 points, gave White Knoll the lead for good on a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter. Logan scored on a layup, Garvin added a runner from the baseline, and Knight scored on a wide open layup before Mathis hit another 3 from the corner. It was 46-40 with almost five minutes remaining.
Mathis was playing in his fifth varsity game after being pulled up from the junior varsity. He has been a huge offensive presence in his short time on the varsity.
“Miles was huge with four 3’s” Jones said. “We needed that third guy to step up and he extends the court where you have to guard him. I finally decided we were just going to go with him and let him play.”
Mathis didn’t play in the earlier game this season, but Harris called him the difference-maker.
Logan finished with 21 points and Garvin added 14 with Knight adding eight to account for 57 of the 59 points.