'Dogs refuse to lose on emotional night

Photo by Dave Boyd
HamptonÕs Lacey Oliver sizes up a foul shot.

Bulldogs Sweep Raiders
By Kim Richardson
STAR Correspondent
Adam Miller led the emotionally-charged Bulldogs of Hampton over the visiting Raiders of Sullivan North, 66-63, Friday night.
But Miller wasn't alone. Jordan Honeycutt blocked three crucial, close-range shots, and Alex Ingram hit seven of eight free throws down the stretch as the Raiders continually threatened to end the Bulldogs' hopes of a boys-and-girls clean sweep on a downcast night in Hampton.
Hampton chose to play the game after receiving the devastating news that student Bridgett Singleton had lost her life in an auto accident that morning. Several in the crowd were visibly shaken -- many unabashedly wept throughout the contest -- but life, and even this trivial game of basketball goes on. 
The Bulldogs were average at best throughout the first quarter, and the score was demonstrative of their performance, as the quarter ended with Hampton trailing 18-12.
The second period was essentially more of the same, though Hampton did manage to better its first quarter score by two, but continued to miss from outside.
Meanwhile North matched its first period score with another 18 points, and went to the halftime break leading by 10, 36 - 26.
The game took on a more intense form in the third quarter as Hampton turned up the defensive pressure, but the 'Dogs were still having trouble hitting the outside shot.
Coach Bud Hazelwood kept imploring his players to push the ball inside, to take the game to the Raiders. Shane Campbell made a beautiful baseline double-pump jumper to keep the game at a ten point deficit early on.
North kept beating Hampton down court early on in the third before Miller began to assert his skills and his determination midway through the quarter. He began the Hampton surge with a nifty drive along the baseline near the three-minute mark to finally cut the North lead to single digits at 47-38.
After a stop by the scrappy, Bulldogs defense Miller was fouled at the other end and hit one of two free throws.
Zack Trivette hit a nice 10-footer and on the next possession Miller would again be fouled. The struggling senior missed both free throws, but his subpar free-throw shooting performance had no effect on his overall game as he forced a double dribble after North rebounded; and on the inlet pass, Miller would again be fouled. This time he would only miss the first of two.
"I wasn't so hot at the free-throw line," stated a solemn Miller. "We all had Bridggett in our hearts and on our minds. I just tried to play a complete game overall." 
Hampton was beginning to believe, and just before the end of the third, Jacob Culler hit a 12-foot jumper to cut the lead to two, 47-45. 
Hampton's incredible comeback against a talented Sullivan North team continued into the fourth quarter, and again it was Miller who led the charge. Miller dashed up the middle to steal a pass from the two guard to the point, and outraced the North guard for a layup; and we're all tied up at 47 with 6:40 remaining in the game.
North would quickly regain the lead by hitting one of two free throws, before Miller (who else) would hit a long-range three, giving Hampton the lead at 50-48. But North wouldn't go quietly, and answered the three with one of its own, and it is 51-50 with six minutes to play.
But again, Hampton would lead after Jacob Culler nailed a key jumper and the Bulldogs were again ahead at 52-51. At the other end, C. J. Minnick, who led all scorers with 27 points, was fouled and hit both to continue the see-saw affair. 
After Hampton failed to score on its next possession, North's Damion Thomas hit a smooth jump-shot and the Raiders seemed to reestablish control at 55-52. Culler rebounded a Miller miss and was fouled while shooting.  He hit one of two to cut the lead to two at the 4:19 mark. 
Sullivan North's C. J. Hackler drove through the Bulldog defense and hit a lay-up to break a 55-55 tie, putting North back in the lead.
On the other end, a new scenario was beginning to unfold. Alex Ingram was fouled, and the smooth shooter hit both free throws to again tie the score at 57.  Ingram was just getting started.
"My dad (Randy Ingram) taught me what Coach Jerry White had taught him many years ago about shooting," stated the modest Ingram. "We all had Bridgett on our minds, and it was difficult to stay focused. I'll admit I was a little emotional and pretty nervous at first, but I tried to stay positive."
But North wasn't going to make things easy for its hosts. Hackler was perfect on two free throws to give the Raiders yet another lead at 59-57.
Miller attempted to answer with a put-back but was once again fouled. He made the second of two shots to make it a one-point game. 
After refusing to allow North to score, Ingram would make a beautiful bank-shot to again give the Bulldogs the lead at 60-59, a lead that would finally hold up. Lucas Honeycutt hit one of two for Hampton.
Ingram would be fouled at the nine-second mark, and would hit the first of two free throws. He missed the second, but a hustling Jordan Honeycutt leapt and saved the rebound from the baseline, and threw a jump pass to none other than Alex Ingram, who was immediately fouled.
This time Ingram would hit both shots, and Hampton led 66-61 with six seconds remaining.
Derek Williams hit a lay-up just before the buzzer, but it would leave the Raiders three points short in a classic battle of wills at Hampton.
"There's not much I can add," stated Coach Hazelwood. "We never make it easy on ourselves, but the guys stuck together.  Jordan had three big-time blocks in the fourth, and Adam and Jacob played with such will-power. They all played a very determined game of basketball under some very difficult circumstances tonight."