WILSON – If Southern Nash coach Robbie Kennedy played the ‘what-if’ game with Wednesday night’s game against Wilson Hunt, he’d be forced to do that with the Firebirds’ entire year.
The final game of the Firebirds’ season – a 59-47 loss in the Big East Conference Tournament semifinals – was a microcosm of their entire season.
But just for fun, what would have happened if Southern Nash hadn’t gone nearly 12 and a half minutes without a made field goal?
“It’d be a big swing,” Southern Nash guard Desmon Jackson said. “ ... It’s just another game, a mirror image of our season.”
Southern Nash (4-19), the conference tournament’s fifth seed, raced out to an 11-point lead after Deon Lavender, who scored a game-high 15 points, knocked down two free throws with 3:14 to play in the first quarter.
Chi-Ali Bunn missed a lay-up at 2:30, and the Firebirds’ lead was down to five. From there, 18 of Southern Nash’s next 19 possessions ended with a miss or a turnover.
“That’s kind of been our M.O.,” Southern Nash coach Robbie Kennedy said. “We score 16 points in the first four minutes, and then score three in the next 12.
“That (has) been us the whole season.”
Bunn hit just the front end of a pair of free throws with 4:49 remaining in the half. By then, the Firebirds were down six points.
When Jackson, who scored 10 points in the first four minutes alone, knocked down two free throws with 27 seconds to play in the second quarter, Southern Nash was down by 12.
“We had them from the start, then something just broke, like we always do,” Lavender said. “Everything just went down hill.”
Then everything started to turn up hill.
No. 1 seed Wilson Hunt led by 16 points to start the fourth quarter, a lead that was quickly cut to 10 after a 5-0 spurt from Southern Nash. After two made free throws by Aaron Ware, Southern Nash trailed by just eight points with possession.
Kennedy turned to his team and told them that if they could score on that possession, they were going to upset the Warriors.
The Firebirds didn’t score, and eight points was as close as they came.
Wilson Hunt, which made only one field goal in the fourth quarter, went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line late in the fourth quarter. Southern Nash made just two more shots after it pulled within eight points.
“You’ve gotta make shots, 3-pointers and layups,” Kennedy said. “We did, but we didn’t do it consistently enough.”
No. 1 Wilson Hunt 59
No. 5 Southern Nash 47
SN 16 3 10 18 – 47
WH 20 14 11 14 – 59
SN: Deon Lavender (15 points); Desmon Jackson (14 points); Aaron Ware (6 points); Chi-Ali Bunn (5 points); Marquis Taylor (3 points); Marques Wright (2 points); Queston Powell (2 points).
WH: Travon Davis (14 points); Daniel Westbrook (12 points); Keenon Tabron (9 points); Jaylen Gilliam (4 points); Javis Neal-hill (4 points); Dwanya Sutton (3 points); Isaiah White (2 points).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org