ST. GEORGES – St. Georges head coach Rod Griffin could tell that sophomore guard Nah’Shon Hyland was poised for a big night long before Tuesday’s crucial conference matchup against Hodgson.
“I knew in warm-ups that he was ready,” Griffin said after Hyland scored a game-high 25 points to help the 5th-ranked Hawks edge the 2nd-ranked Silver Eagles 52-48, pulling into a tie for first place in the Flight B standings. “You could just tell from his bounce that he was ready and he delivered.”
“That’s my young boy,” said senior guard Kyson Rawls, who scored 15 points of his own. “Whenever I pass him the ball, I know it’s an assist for me or it’s going to lead to a basket for somebody else because he always makes the right play.”
“We just ran our offense,” said Hyland, who nailed two early 3-point bombs to give St. Georges a 19-10 lead after one quarter of play. “Our offense works. Every team is going to make a run so we just had to settle down and be patient.”
The Hawks (12-4 overall, 5-1 Flight B) led wire-to-wire, including an advantage as large as 35-20 on an Ethen Brown layup with six minutes to go in the third quarter. Th Silver Eagles (13-3, 5-1 Flight B) slowly worked their way back into the contest behind L.J. Stansbury, Hodgson’s leading scorer with 19 points, and senior guard Greg Tucker, who scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“Actually, we do this a lot,” Rawls admitted of St. Georges’ fast starts turning into close finishes. “So we just weather the storm, make the smart pass, make some free throws here and there and then bring it to the finish line.”
Hodgson got as close as five points on a Tucker lay-up with 46 seconds to go, but two Hyland free throws gave St. Georges enough of a cushion to withstand a Stansbury three-pointer with 10 seconds left in the game.
“We were going to head to head with them,” Hyland said. “We just had to work together. We blew that big lead, but we handled adversity and got the job done.”
“We want to keep the same intensity throughout the whole game that we had in the first half,” Rawls added.
“This was an extraordinary playoff atmosphere,” Griffin said. “The crowd was great – our side was screaming, their side was screaming. We’re just happy to beat a really good Hodgson team.”