By QUINTON LILLEY
With less than six miles separating Hawkins and Big Sandy, Friday night’s boys basketball matchup became a highly anticipated rematch between two teams looking to secure a spot in the UIL playoffs.
While the first quarter saw the Hawkins Hawks take a three-point lead, the Big Sandy Wildcats used a huge second quarter to win 56-45 in Big Sandy.
The first quarter was hotly contested as both teams’ offenses traded runs with Big Sandy taking a 13-8 lead midway through the first quarter.
After a timeout by Hawkins Coach Mike Craft the Hawks responded with an 8-0 run as Cameron Taylor and Collin Barber each scored twice for Hawkins giving the Hawks a three point lead. The quarter would end with Hawkins up 16-13.
In the second quarter the Wildcats defense completely shut down Hawkins’ attack. Big Sandy immediately went on a 6-0 run as they took the lead back 19-16. Throughout the game Hawkins struggled to hit perimeter shots and turned the ball over repeatedly. After a score by Hawkins to cut the lead to 21-18 Big Sandy went on a 4-0 run extending the lead to25-18.
The Hawks’ problems got even worse as their starting forward Tristian Garrett picked up his third foul and was forced to sit on the bench the remainder of the half. The Wildcats then took their seven-point lead in to the halftime break.
The Wildcats’ defense held Hawkins to just two points in the entire quarter which ranked as the lowest scoring total for the Hawks in any quarter this season.
As the second half got underway the Wildcats hit a three to extend the lead to double-digits at 28-18. Both teams then traded baskets when Garrett hit a running floater, Taylor scored a layup plus the foul, and Taylor scored again on a bank shot cutting big Sandy’s lead to 30-27.
But just as they did in the first half Big Sandy Responded to every run by Hawkins the Wildcats then went on a 4-0 run of their own forcing another Craft timeout with just under four minutes left in the frame.
Garrett went back in the game hit a deep wing three, and then Big Sandy’s freshman point guard Elijah Beard hit a huge three to give the Wildcats another seven-point lead.
After another score from Garrett, he committed his fourth foul of the game and had to be taken out again due to foul trouble. The Wildcats took advantage going on another 4-0 run to close the third quarter as they led 43-33 heading in to the fourth.
In the fourth Big Sandy’s defense showed up again as they forced bad shots and turnovers by the Hawks as the lead was pushed to 14 points halfway through the final period. While the Hawks attempted to make a run behind a three from both Taylor and Everin Gipson it would not be enough as the Wildcats cruised to victory in the final minutes.
Cameron Taylor led all scorers with 21 points while Tristian Garrett also added 13 for Hawkins. Elijah Beard led Big Sandy with 18 points and Josh Shipman also had a solid game over all scoring 16 for the Wildcats.