Everyone’s heard of the old saying, “You win some, you lose some.” It’s applied all too well for Midway’s boys basketball team this season, as they split a pair of Sampson County rivalry games to end the week, topping Hobbton 58-35 on Thursday before losing a nail-biter, 45-44 at Lakewood.
‘Pedal to the medal’
The Raiders were able to hold off a third quarter rally by Hobbton and pull away in the fourth for a comfortable win.
“We’ve played four games so far and every game we’ve been in, we’ve won the first half and come out in the third quarter and been lackluster,” said Midway boys coach Aaron Lane. “I challenged the guys tonight in the third quarter, ‘This right here marks what we’re going to be for the rest of the year. Are we just going to allow teams to come back in the third quarter or are we going to put our foot on their neck and win the game?’”
Senior guard Luke Strickland had 15 points on four 3-pointers and junior Thornton Baggett had 12 points to lead the Raiders.
Senior big man Jordan Persall had a game-high 16 points to lead the Wildcats, who managed to climb back into the game after trailing 13-8 at the end of the first quarter and 31-13 at half. Hobbton outscored Midway 14-7 in the period to make it 38-27 heading into the fourth, and nearly cut it to single digits on a missed 3-pointer that went in and out in the final seconds.
Pearsall hit two free throws to open the fourth quarter and make it a 9-point game, but then Midway closed on a 20-6 run to end the game.
“That’s what we’ve been wanting to do,” Lane said. “We wanted to put the pedal to the metal and finish a game for the first time this year. I’m proud of them for that tonight.”
To say heartbreak struck Midway’s boys on Friday would be an understatement, as their loss came in the worst way possible. After a grueling night of action, on the road at Lakewood, they had victory snatched away in the last seconds, the final score 45-44.
The entire game was settled in the final 2:29 — the timestamp when Lakewood finally tied it back up at 39-39 after trailing since the second quarter. Nearly a minute passed with multiple missed opportunities on both sides keeping the game dead even. Then, at 1:39, Midway’s Luke Strickland hit a big time walk-up three to give them a 42-39 lead.
On the following possession, potentially the biggest mistake by Midway occurred: a technical foul. This one, however, came from Lane, who was upset over a possibly missed foul call. The Leopards made one free throw to make it 42-40 — a point that made all the difference.
“I’m very proud of our guys, we really battled,” Lane said. “Just very disappointed because I feel like I cost my team at the end with the technical. I thought it was a foul, thought they got underneath my guy and made him miss the shot, but they didn’t call it.”
“I told the guys that this one was on me,” he added. “I preach character and sportsmanship every single day, and I wasn’t a good model of it in the moment. I’ll take this one on the chin for us, but I was just trying to fight for our kids.”
Midway went on to push the lead to four following a pair of clutch free throws by Lane Bagget before the final minute. Following a Leopards bucket that cut the lead back to two, the next big costly mistake happened. With 22 seconds left the Raiders turned the ball over, which prompted a Leopard timeout.
Then, on their final possession, they found an open look from three that found nothing but net, giving the Leopards a 1-point lead, 45-44, with 2 seconds left. It was only Lakewood’s second lead of the night, but it’s the only lead that mattered.
Tyler Godwin was the Raiders’ leading scorer on the night, finishing with 11 points.
“This was a tough loss, every game we’ve played this year has been like this an absolute dog fight,” Lane said. “Every game’s been a 5- or 6-point difference but we’ve able to win some of them.”