Pandemonium in Pantego

Published 12:47 pm Saturday, February 8, 2014




Knights amass comeback in final minutes to win Backyard Brawl

The Terra Ceia men’s basketball team made history on Friday night, erasing a 10-point deficit in the final minutes to defeat rival Pungo Christian and win the Backyard Brawl, 65-52.

“It’s incredible,” said Terra Ceia Head Coach Roger Klaassen. “We’ve worked so hard and had so many close games. To finally get to the end and make it happen, that’s what it’s all about.”

The Knights entered Friday’s game as clear underdogs, boasting a 12-9 record and coming off a heartbreaking home loss to Ridgecroft. The Raiders came in with an 18-2 record and the NCISAA Tarheel Conference’s most dynamic player, forward Cole Austin Woolard, who scored 28 points against Lawrence just a day earlier.

In the first half, the Raiders coasted and had full control of the game’s tempo. Point guard Dalton Etheridge slowed down the pace and worked Terra Ceia’s zone defense. Meticulous passing and systematic ball movement created space between the defender and open man. The result was wide open mid-range jumpers and points in the paint.

Without question, Woolard was the catalyst behind the Raiders offensive scheme, as he recorded 18 points in the first half. Flying under-the-radar was Terra Ceia’s captain, Kyle Hendrix, whose shooting ability was quietly keeping the Knights in the game.

Leading 33-28 at the half, Pungo raised the offensive tempo out of the break and started capitalizing in transition. Forward Hunter Sutton contested Knights’ paint presence, sophomore Chase Furlough, as Woolard continued to expand the lead into the final quarter.

With just five minutes remaining, the Raiders had a 47-37 lead and all the momentum, until the Knights finally started to play with a sense of urgency and began clawing their way back.

Terra Ceia’s second wind, along with a few untimely Pungo technical fouls, cut the lead to just two points. Then, what was likely the biggest shot of the night, Quentin Van Essendelft stepped back and drained a three to put Terra Ceia ahead for the first time in the game, 50-48.

The Knights of Pantego would never look back, ending the game on a 14-2 run to seal the victory. Despite the loss, Woolard finished with 27 points.

“We started this trek back in November and we worked so hard and had so many tough losses,” Klaassen said. “To have this finally come through on this last night, it couldn’t be any better.”

It was certainly a game that the Terra Ceia faithful will remember for a long time, but it overshadowed what was also an emotional senior night. Prior to the game, Knights fans said goodbye to shooting guard Aaron Williams, small forward Griffin Jackson and, the man of the night, Hendrix, who led his team with 17 points.

“Kyle has been a leader for four years,” Klaassen said. “This was something really big that he wanted and hasn’t had since he’s been here, so that was awesome.”

Both Terra Ceia and Pungo Christian will head to the NCISAA Basketball Tournament beginning next week.