Southern Sports & Travel, By Darron Thomas
Basketball encounters between top five teams from different classes usually don’t take place until February at the Overall Tournament but on Tuesday afternoon 4th ranked Presbyterian (AAA) hosted top ranked Central Private (AA) in what had the feel of a post season matchup.
In the end Presbyterian squeaked out a 46-44 win behind the play of junior forward Hunter Hawkins who dominated the paint with 19 points as the Bobcats improved to 4-1 and will prepare to host 3rd ranked Jackson Academy in a huge Class AAA matchup next Tuesday.
(Above) Drew Deen (#23) of Presbyterian drives to the basket in the second half
Presbyterian looked to be shell-shocked early on against Central Private as the Rebels raced out to a 10-1 lead just two minutes into the contest but the Bobcats put together an 11-2 run, fueled by Hawkins with 9 points, to pull even with Central Private to close out the opening quarter tied at 12-12.
Neither team could build more than a two point cushion until the 1:38 mark of the quarter when Presbyterian junior Daniel Dees pulled down an offensive rebound and scored to give the Bobcats a 21-18 advantage. Dave Jackson’s offensive rebound and put back with 41 seconds left in the half narrowed the deficit to 21-20, and following a Hunter Hawkins free throw, Jackson knotted the score with a driving scoop shot at the buzzer to end the first half tied at 22-22.
In a third quarter that was tied four times and produced five lead changes it proved to be no different than the second as neither squad enjoyed more than a two point lead. With Presbyterian in possession, and on top 30-28, Central Private senior Dave Jackson stole the ball and drove the length of the floor and slammed home a dunk (photo below) to tie the game at 30-30 with 1:51 remaining in the quarter. Following a James Akers free throw, Central Private retook the lead as Jackson laid one in from close range to give the Rebels a 32-31 lead but Presbyterian sophomore Tanner Myatt nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4 seconds left in the quarter to give the Bobcats a narrow 34-32 lead after three quarters of play.
With Presbyterian holding on to a slim 40-39 lead at the 1:28 mark of the final quarter Dave Jackson drew his 5th foul and the Bobcats capitalized. Daniel Dees pulled down an offensive rebound and scored to put the Bobcats on top 42-39 and following a Central Private turnover, Drew Deen canned two free throws to give Presbyterian their biggest lead of the game at 44-29 with 48 seconds remaining.
Central Private quickly advanced the ball and senior Taylor Fletcher nailed a long 3-pointer with 43 seconds left to trim the lead to 44-42. The Rebels followed up the Fletcher basket with a steal on the inbounds pass and following a timeout tied the game at 44-44 on a driving basket by sophomore Jake Flaggert with 18 seconds remaining.
(Above) Presbyterian's Hunter Hawkins rejects a shot by Taylor Fletcher of Central Private (#23)
Presbyterian point guard James Akers then served up his finest assist of the evening as the senior dished to Hunter Hawkins under the basket for the game winner with 3 seconds on the clock to give the home-standing Bobcats a 46-44 win.
For Presbyterian Hawkins poured in 19 points, Tanner Myette had 9, James Akers 5, Daniel Dees and Drew Deen 4 apiece, Cade Martin 3 and Gage Garner 2.
Central Private was led by Dave Jackson with 14 points, Jake Flaggert added 12, Taylor Fletcher 10, Simpson Anderson 6 and Lance Wicker 2.
Next up for Central Private (5-2) is a home date with Covenant on Monday.
Post Game Interview: PCS Coach Gary Harris