CHARLOTTE – For much of Charlotte Latin’s CISAA-opening loss to Charlotte Christian, it was hard to tell which team was the one with just three seniors and which was one of the favorites to win a state title this year.
In the end, the Hawks fell 7066, pushing their record to 9-6 while the Knights escaped and improved to 17-1 on the year.
But the game, and the Latin season, didn’t always go as planned.
The Hawks began the season just 1-3, but had won eight of their past 10 entering their showdown with Christian.
And they didn’t back down against the Knights, perceived as one of the state’s most complete teams.
The score was tied at 10 after the first quarter, but the Knights used a 19-5 run to pull away and go up 30-15. There was no quit despite being outscored 22-11 in the decisive second quarter.
“We won three quarters, but the second quarter we dug ourselves a little hole and we can’t do that against a good team,” Latin coach Chris Berger said. “We have to execute our stuff, but we’ll figure it out. At halftime, we challenged our guys and we knew they’d respond. There’s no quit in those kids and I’m proud of our guys. That’s a very good team over there, and hopefully it will give our guys some confidence if we can take that from a loss.”
The Hawks came roaring back, although it took some time. They trailed by 15 points again at 40-25 midway through the third quarter, but went on a 25-14 run to tie the game at 54. Although Latin last led when the score was 10-8 late in the first quarter, they tied the game on three other occasions before falling by four.
Senior John Beecy, a tri-captain and one of just three Latin seniors on the roster, sparked the second half run by scoring 19 of his game-high 23 points after the break. Beecy hit 6-of-7 free throws, a pair of 3-pointers and scored on some dazzling moves in the paint.
Junior guard Randy Johnson scored eight of his 13 after intermission and sophomore forward Graham Calton finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
The Hawks are relatively
young – they start two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore and have another sophomore and freshman playing big minutes – but Berger won’t use that as an excuse.
“It’s good and bad because we’re pushing some guys in the deep end and making them swim immediately,” he said. “Then we have guys who have played a lot of minutes for us. John Beecy has played since his freshman year and some of the juniors have played because we were really young a couple of years ago.
“The guys are doing a great job and I’m excited to move forward. The great thing about high school basketball is you can evaluate and look at your mistakes. I’m a practice coach so I can’t wait for tomorrow. And, it’s not like football where you have to wait a week, we’re right back at it and excited to get back and see Cannon on Friday.”
Next week, the Hawks will travel to Covenant Day (Jan. 15) and Country Day (Jan. 18).