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Posted On: 02/15/18 12:00 AM
Trailing by a single point with 19.7 seconds left, Hunters Lane somehow extracted a win over Hillsboro.
Wednesday night was hectic in Nashville. A sparsely-attended 12 AAA district game took plenty of time to interest the fans. The final minute included multiple lead changes, countless blunders, but sharp-minded coaching moves and two enormously timely steals.
Tray Esaw finished with 11 points, nine of them in the decisive fourth quarter.
On to The Best….
MVP: Tray Esaw (Hunters Lane)
In the first three quarters, senior point guard Tray Esaw scored just two points. He didn’t really threaten to score much, but faced with the end of his high school career Tray found motivation. He managed to input
Best offensive performance: Kendall Winston (Hunters Lane)
The scorer virtually vanished in the final quarter, but Kendall did record 16 points Wednesday night. Winston dropped three triples in the first half. He got to the free throw line just the once and split the pair.
Best defensive performance: Tray Esaw (Hunters Lane)
This will be a recurring theme, but Tray Esaw’s steal with 12ish seconds left was enormous. Then with 7ish seconds left he did it again. Tray simply stole the game and stole his coach’s heart. Fantastic.
Best coaching decision: Playing Donald Fitzgerald with one defender.
The latter stages didn’t really unveil any dramatic coaching calls. In fact, the final minute was essentially a series of wild turnovers instigated with quick minds and quicker hands. In the first half, Hunters Lane Head Coach Anthony Sewell elected to defend Donald Fitzgerald with a single body. When the ball dropped down to Fitzgerald many Warriors collapsed, but Fitzgerald could not get the ball up on the rim fast enough to be a true threat.
Best intangibles: Hunters Lane guards’ mindsets
Guards win games. Experienced guards win playoff games. Seniors Tray Esaw, Kendall Winston, and forward James Webb played smart. Despite different skill limitations they all limited turnovers. Better yet, the magician Esaw created two out of thin air.
Best aspect of the environment: Hillsboro cheerleader
One of the two male cheerleaders for Hillsboro finished a fantastic court-long run of flips, took a step back, stared at the Hunters Lane cheerleaders, did a backflip, and then stared again while wiping off his brow. It was spectacularly shady and hilarious. During the next timeout he dropped into the splits from a four foot high jump. Again…hilariously shady.
Best play: Tray Esaw’s first steal
Hunters Lane needed plenty to carve out this win. Down 48-47, Hunters Lane mustered a sideline inbounds play that completely failed immediately. From a mere one foot away, Burro freshman JP Pegues caught the inbounds pass with both hands. He scurried off to hide from defenders as Hillsboro needed only to run the clock out. Pegues fed his teammate in the corner. Expecting to deliver the ball back to Pegues the passer didn’t see Tray Esaw slip between them and intercept it. Esaw burst up floor and finished an and1 to take the lead for the Warriors.
You can find the wild series of events at 17:00 of this video.
Best under-the-radar performance: Ese Owolo (Hillsboro)
The junior point guard played stable most of the night. Though he was ripped at a pivotal juncture, Owolo’s toughness impressed. Look for him to anchor the Hillsboro team next fall. He finished with nine points in the loss.
Best underclassmen: Ryan Wilcox (Hillsboro)
While Donald Fitzgerald could have the brightest future of the Burros, Class of 2020 Ryan Wilcox sparkled in the halfcourt Wednesday. The sophomore can slash or rebound. His outside shooting needs to improve, but the mix of size and strength is very impressive for an underclassman.
Check out the postgame interview with Tray Esaw.