Predators get wild win over Bulldogs
FOX CREEK 77, SILVER BLUFF 75
NORTH AUGUSTA — Closing out victories – especially at the free throw line – is an area where Andrew Peckham has wanted his Fox Creek boys’ basketball team to improve heading into the home stretch of the regular season.
The Predators got the opportunity Friday night and capitalized, making their free throws down the stretch after giving up a double-digit lead in a bizarre home win over the Bulldogs.
A technical foul was called against Silver Bluff with 13.8 seconds left after two players got into the Fox Creek huddle during a timeout. Tyler Stampley hit two free throws, turning Silver Bluff’s 75-74 lead into a 76-75 edge for Fox Creek.
Jadon Johnson added another free throw from there when the Bulldogs couldn’t score on their following possession, sealing a wild – and important – win for the Predators.
“We’ve struggled with free throws all season. That’s been one of our Achilles’ heels. We have not been able to finish at the line,” Peckham said. “To hit those clutch free throws from multiple guys, in what I like to call “winning time” is just impressive from my guys. It just shows that grit and determination that we have.
“We’re a team that, we say, we’re together. I thought multiple players stepped up today. We had to do it together. It wasn’t just one guy. Justin Freeman was huge in the first half. We got some big bench minutes from Tyler Stampley. Scales had some big shots down the stretch. We had other guys that were able to step up. That’s the way we want to play. You’ve got to play together.”
Fox Creek, now 3-2 in Region 2-AA play after playing its first four league games on the road, led by nine heading into the third quarter and led by double digits with under 5 minutes remaining.
Silver Bluff, which fell to 1-4 in league play, kept pushing. The Bulldogs roared all the way back to a 69-68 lead with 2:30 to play, then traded scoring possessions with the Predators.
“We’ve got to be better about understanding how to close out games. We had a double-digit lead with about 4 minutes to go,” Peckham said. “Credit Coach (Robbie) McKenzie and his bunch, though. They don’t ever give up. They stayed getting after us. We had some mistakes, but I’m proud of the guys. We kept our cool, kept our heads, and were able to pull out that win.”
Jadon Johnson hit two free throws with 33.9 seconds left to put Fox Creek back ahead 74-73, and it looked like the Predators would have the chance to add to that lead when JaCory Tanksley missed both of his free throw attempts and the held ball went back to Fox Creek.
He stole the inbounds pass, though, and drew the foul to go back to the line. Tanksley made both free throws to put Silver Bluff back ahead by a point with 13.8 seconds to go, sending the visitor’s side of the gym into a frenzy.
Its tone changed quickly.
The technical foul turned momentum sharply in Fox Creek’s favor, and the Predators secured a win Peckham hopes will give them momentum heading into the second half of the region schedule.
Freeman scored 19 points to lead Fox Creek. Scales had 17, and Jadon Johnson scored 15. Darius Johnson led the Bulldogs in scoring with 24 points, and Khiree Cummings and Tanksley had 10 apiece.
Both teams resume region play at home next Friday. Fox Creek hosts Ninety Six, and Silver Bluff hosts Saluda.
Kyle Dawson covers sports for the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @ItsKyleDawson.