Knights come up short in defensive struggle
Ultimately, non-region battles before Christmas don’t matter in the win column.
Where they truly can make a difference is giving a team some experience in a tight game that prepares them for tough region games and beyond.
Though it lost 56-52, Stratford benefited from Friday night’s defensive struggle with rival Summerville in the opening round of the Hoops for Hope tournament at Stall High School. Defense made its mark for both teams.
“I thought it was great defensive battle,” SHS coach Troy Johnson said. “… It was just like a region game. This is how it is every night in our region… It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be flashy. It just has to be a win. And tonight Summerville won.”
The Knights (5-2) played catch up for most of the game, leading just once by a single point in the first half. The Green Wave eventually built an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, 43-32. But like it had all game, Stratford fought back to give itself a chance, knotting the score at 48-48 on a bucket by Thad Thompson with just over three minutes left.
“We didn’t quit,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to keep playing hard. I thought we played good, hard defense. We’ve just got to hit some more shots.”
Summerville regained the lead on a free throw by Timmy Singleton and Christian Kalacnic layup. Stratford then missed a pair of free throws and Kalacnic made it 53-48 with another layup. Following a Stratford turnover, Singleton made another free throw.
A long 2-pointer by Antonio Stinson cut Stratford’s deficit to 54-50 with 24 seconds left but the Wave iced it with a pair of free throws.
Xavier Robinson had 11 points for the Green Wave, while Kalacnic, Singleton and Kawuan Cox chipped in nine points apiece.
Stratford was led by Demetre Rivers with a game-high 28 points. Thad Thompson and Marquise Calvary added eight and seven respectively. Rivers and Thompson had 13 and 10 rebounds.