Fresh off of an exciting overtime victory in its last game, the Aiken High School boys’ basketball team fell flat Tuesday. Playing at the James A. Taylor Student Activities Center, the Hornets were out of synch on offense most of the night, losing their Region 5-AAAA opener to White Knoll 61-46.
“We were out of control and turned the ball over too much,” Aiken head coach Tony Harrell said after his team fell to 10-5 on the season. “Give White Knoll credit, they had a gameplan and executed it and dominated on both ends of the court.”
Save for one stretch at the end of the third quarter, the Hornet offense never took flight. They struggled in half-court sets against the Timberwolves’ 2-3 matchup zone, looking uncertain of how to attack it. They often rushed shots, and even when the Hornets got good looks, their shots never went in with much consistency.
Because of those woes, there were breakdowns that led to some players trying to do too much on their own. Forcing the action didn’t help either and Harrell wasn’t happy about his players’ abandoning team concepts.
“We tried to do too much one-on-one. We didn’t move the ball well,” he said. “We have to go back and work on our stuff. We need to run our system and trust each other.”
It certainly didn’t help that Aiken was struggling to make shots from the perimeter. Even when it got the ball down low, it had problems finishing off possessions with points as White Knoll (11-5, 1-0) rotated well on defense to challenge shots and was quick to the ball on the glass, outrebounding the Hornets.
Aiken’s star guard Shawn Moore had his lowest point output of the season. Moore, who came into the contest averaging better than 27 points per game, was held to 11 points, with only two coming in the first half, when he spent a good amount of time on the bench as he wasn’t effective. Ryan McKie led Aiken with 12 points, eight of them were scored in the first half that ended with the Hornets trailing 25-15.
White Knoll didn’t get lots of contributions, with only six players scoring. But four of them finished the game in double figures as it used a balanced attack to stave off Aiken’s attempts at a second-half rally. Najee Garvin led the way with a game-best 15 points, Emarius Logan added 13 while Julian Johnson and Brandon Tillmon scored 11 apiece.
They were big down the stretch – connecting on 13 of 14 free throws in the game – as the Hornets fought in vain. White Knoll seemed on the verge of turning the game into a blowout midway through the third quarter, leading 39-21. But Aiken stormed back with a 10-0 run to keep the game competitive.
Down by eight, with just seconds remaining in the third, the Hornets appeared to make a steal and were trying to push the ball up the floor to get one last shot before the quarter ended and put an exclamation on the rally. But the steal was quickly turned back over to the Timberwolves, who got a layup at the buzzer to pad their edge back to double digits.
“That deflated us,” Harrell said of his team, which trimmed its deficit to eight points twice in the fourth quarter, but never got any closer in a game it trailed the whole way. “That could have made it a different game.”
Harrell will be looking for a better team-effort from his Hornets when they return to action on Friday. They will travel to play Dutch Fork.
WK 11 14 16 20 – 61
AIK 8 7 16 15 – 46
White Knoll (11-5, 1-0 Region 5-AAAA)—Emarius Logan 5 3-4 13, Chris Dorrah 2 0-0 4, Auterrio Hunter 2 2-2 7, Julian Johnson 4 2-2 11, Brandon Tillmon 3 4-4 11, Najee Garvin 6 2-2 15. Totals: 22 13-14 61.
3-Pointers: Hunter, Johnson, Tillmon, Garvin.
Aiken (10-5, 0-1 Region 5-AAAA)—Shawn Moore 5 1-3 11, Jordan Habersham 2 0-0 6, Ryan McKie 3 6-6 12, Deon Hicks 1 2-4 5, Dramel Coleman 3 2-4 8, Jared Davis 1 0-0 2, Stacy Toole 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 11-17 46.
3-Pointers: Habersham (2), Hicks.
AIKEN GIRLS 56, WHITE KNOLL 35
The Aiken High School girls’ basketball team played its Region 5-AAAA opener at home Tuesday, and the game was over shortly after it had begun. That’s because the Hornets jumped out to an eight point lead in the first 90 seconds and – following a White Knoll basket – closed the first quarter on a 19-0 run. The 25-point cushion was more than enough in Aiken’s 56-35 victory.
“It was a good night,” Lady Hornets head coach Aubrey Pompey said after his team improved its overall record to 11-3 on the season. “Everybody got a chance to play.”
Pompey was able to go deep into his bench at the start of the second quarter thanks to his team’s dominating start. Using a full-court press, the Lady Hornets overwhelmed the Timberwolves and forced turnovers that they quickly converted into points. They also made quick switches away from the press to half-court traps that also befuddled the Timberwolves (7-5, 0-1).
White Knoll tried its best to press Aiken, but that strategy backfired as the home team broke free and sparked its own transition game and more high-percentage scoring opportunities. Topping everything off, Aiken was on target with its shooting in the first quarter that rendered the rest of the game moot. Alexis Odom led Aiken with 12 points, while Monique Tyler added 10 and Erin Gilmore scored all eight of her points in the decisive first quarter.
White Knoll’s Summer Cagle scored a game-high 13 points and Charne Wilson added 11, but most of that came in the fourth quarter when the outcome was well in hand.
The Lady Hornets’ next game will be much more challenging. They’ll return to action on Friday when they’ll travel to play Dutch Fork, the defending state champions.
“It’s all about winning games now. The season starts now,” Pompey said. “Dutch Fork is going to be a challenge but I expect us to play well.”
WK 2 3 7 23 – 35
AIK 27 3 17 9 – 56
White Knoll (7-5, 0-1 Region 5-AAAA)—Charne Wilson 4 2-4 11, Summer Cagle 5 3-5 13, Victoria Rivera 2 0-5 4, Timesha Moody 3 0-0 7. Totals: 14 5-14 35.