FOUNTAIN CITY, Ind.
Kiante Enis is only a freshman at Winchester High School, but he’s already well-educated in Tri-Eastern Conference boys basketball.
And heading into Friday’s showdown at Northeastern High School, Enis was well aware of what was on the line.
Both teams went into Friday night with just two conference losses and an outside chance of tying for the conference crown.
Enis scored a career-high 27 points and added 10 rebounds, leading the Falcons to a 75-64 victory over Northeastern.
The Falcons, who at one point were 1-2 in the TEC, are now 5-2 and tied for second with Union County. It was also their fifth straight victory, putting their overall record at 10-9, over .500 for the first time since Jan. 4.
“It was a big game for both teams, because we’ve both been doing real well in the TEC, and both teams just wanted to win and we played real hard,” Enis said. ” … We knew they’re a really good team, and we just came in and got off to a good start. We knew that’s what we had to do as a team.”
Northeastern (10-9, 3-3) had the extra motivation of sending its three seniors out on a winning note, and Andy Scripture sparked the crowd with a 3-pointer right out of the gate.
But the Falcons answered with an 11-0 run, including seven of Enis’ 11 first-quarter points, taking a lead they never gave up.
The Falcons led 18-8 after the opening frame and by as many as 14 in the first half before heading into halftime ahead 33-26.
The Knights managed to trim the deficit to 33-30 in the third, but three is as close as they would get.
Enis added eight points in the third quarter as the Falcons started to pull away with a 53-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter. They led by as many as 17.
Jordan Mills added 12 points for the Falcons and Gatlin Kramer scored 10, while Alan Brutchen, Isaiah Davis and Jack Roberts each added eight.
“(Enis) keeps getting better and better, broadening his game out. He hit pullups tonight and just played so hard, but it was a team effort,” Winchester coach Rick Owens said. “We got him the ball when we needed it, and there were times when he got it in there and kicked it out and Isaiah hit a couple 3s, he got on the baseline to Roberts, got a couple in there to Brutchen. So he’s creating things for other people, just a great team effort.”
For the Knights, it was a disappointing second straight TEC loss after handing conference-leading Hagerstown its first defeat of the season two weeks ago.
Union County edged Northeastern 47-46 on Feb. 7.
“Winchester built themselves a lead and I thought when we started playing from behind, everybody tried to take it upon themselves to get us back in the game, rather than doing the best thing you can as far as playing as a team and working together and chop that lead up a little bit as far as that goes,” Northeastern coach Brent Ross said.
Scripture, Mason Slinker and Ben Claywell were honored for Senior Night, and Slinker led the scoring effort with 17 points, while Scripture had 15.
Alex Smith scored 11 for the Knights, while Grant Esposito hit a pair of treys and finished with eight.
Craig Dingwerth led the Knights with six rebounds, while Corey Dingwerth had five.
Northeastern concludes its season with a trip to TEC foe Union City on Thursday, while Winchester plays host to South Adams on Tuesday.
Hagerstown plays Tri that night with a chance to clinch its first TEC since 1998.
If the Tigers lose, Winchester and Union County join them in a three-way tie for first.
If they win, Winchester and Union County share second.
Owens said: “I just told them where we started, I think we were at one time 1-2 in the conference, to finish 5-2, and tie at least for second, that’s a heck of an accomplishment for these guys. And they just keep getting better and kept getting better and they’ve got momentum and they’ve really grown up and just a great accomplishment to be able to get that done.”