Photo by Beau Bearden.
KINGMAN – If you left at halftime Tuesday night, you missed one heck of an ending.
It appeared the Lee Williams High School boys basketball team was on its way to an easy win over Kingman Academy with a 15-point halftime lead. But the Tigers had other plans – slowly chipping away at the deficit and even taking a one-point advantage in the fourth quarter.
Boys basketball: Lee Williams at Kingman Academy - Nov. 21, 2017
The Lee Williams High School boys basketball team held on for a 45-44 win over Kingman Academy Tuesday night at KAHS. Lee Williams' A.J. Herrera led all scorers with 20 points, while Tyler Chinyere led the Tigers with 19 points. Photos by Beau Bearden.
When it was all said and done though, Lee Williams held on for the 45-44 victory at KAHS.
“I told them we have four, four-minute games to go through,” Academy head coach William McDavid said of his halftime speech. “There’s no 15-point play, there’s no 15-point system to work through. It’s beating them every four minutes – even if it’s by one or two points, we need to keep grinding. That’s what we did and we put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Tigers (0-2) took their only lead of the second half with 3:22 remaining in the game when Bradley Hecker nailed a trey for a 41-40 advantage. It took nearly a minute and a half, but the Vols (2-0) responded with a basket by A.J. Herrera to jump back out in front, 42-41, and then pushed its advantage to four points when Drew Cardiff scored.
However, the game was far from over as the Academy’s Tyler Chinyere nailed a 3-pointer to bring the score to 45-44. Time expired following the basket, but the referees said McDavid called a timeout before the clock hit zeros.
That gave the Tigers hope, but they couldn’t attempt a last-second shot despite getting the ball back after two intentional fouls and two missed free throws by Lee Williams.
“Both teams played hard,” said Vols head coach Cain Atkinson. “I’m not taking anything away from the Academy. They battled, they stayed in it and they stayed aggressive. Great job to them. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m happy with the win.”
Herrera led Lee Williams with a game-high 20 points, while Kael Juelfs scored eight and Parker Taylor and Diego Narvarte each added six points.
“It took everyone,” Herrera said. “It didn’t take just one of us. We all just kept fighting and working hard.”
While the Vols picked up the win, they knew they didn’t play their best basketball in the third quarter. The Tigers outscored Lee Williams 16-4 in that period to inch within three points, 35-32.
“We went away from what we were doing in the first half,” Herrera said. “We stopped doing what our coach told us to do. We started doing what we wanted to do, which was bad. We fixed it in the fourth quarter.”
Following a first half where he scored 16 points, Herrera and the rest of the Vols lineup went cold. The Academy, on the other hand, found its groove and distributed the ball around a night after Chinyere scored a game-high 47 points against Kingman.
While Chinyere did lead the team with five points in the third quarter, Hecker, Nate Perea and Logan Day each played a role in bringing the Tigers back into the game.
“We learned as great as Tyler is, we have to move that ball around to make sure we all have legs,” McDavid said. “We did a wonderful job of that tonight and that’s what sparked us. We were getting other guys involved and showing they could do it too – that sparked us to come back.”
The Academy welcomes Lake Havasu to town Tuesday. Lee Williams, which defeated Parker 67-33 in its season opener Monday night, travels to the Red Rock Classic Tournament Dec. 1-2.