As the old basketball cliche goes, “you live by the three, you die by the three.” On Tuesday night, the Griffin Bears survived by the three.
In a game which went back and forth during the entire four quarters, the Bears knocked down (8) three-point baskets to give them a 69-65 sub-region victory over the Knights. The Knights on the other hand made (3) three-pointers, all by freshman O’Qualon Harris.
“They (Griffin) are a team that likes to put up a lot of three-pointers,” said Knights head coach Darrell Lockhart. “We knew coming into the game that they shoot a lot of three-pointers. We just did a poor job of rotating to their shooters defensively. Our offense wasn’t the problem tonight. It was a poor effort defensively, and that will cost you just about every time.”
The Knights and Bears faced off during the Christmas break in the finals of the Lamar County Christmas Tournament. After jumping out to a 15-point lead in the third quarter, the Knights were able to hold on for a 63-58 victory. However, on Tuesday night neither team had more than a seven-point advantage at anytime during the game.
Upson-Lee had their biggest lead of the game early in the first quarter. The Knights were getting good looks inside to their post players, and senior Travis Pittman took advantage of the opportunities down low. Pittman scored six of his 13 points in the first quarter, and grabbed four rebounds in the first quarter. With 3:11 left to go in the opening frame, the Knights led the Bears 12-5.
From that point on, the Bears went on a 23-15 run to close out the half. Griffin began to make those three-pointers they were missing in the first quarter. Upson-Lee also helped out the Bears in the second quarter, committing seven of their 17 turnovers in the period. The Knights were forcing passes and had trouble on the boards, so the Bears ended up with a 28-27 lead at halftime.
To start the third quarter, Griffin came out in a 2-3 zone. The Bears had played full court man-to-man defense the entire first half, and the Bears may have figured they would catch the Knights off guard. However, it was the Knights who benefited from Griffin’s decision to play zone.
As was the case in the first quarter, the Knights began to get the ball down low to their post players, where David Marshall and K.D. Pennyman were able to score some points in the paint. Marshall, who finished the game with 12 points, scored six of those points in the first two minutes of the third quarter. Upson-Lee went on an 8-2 run to start the second half, and the Knights led 36-30.
The Bears called a timeout and ultimately thought better of playing a zone defense. The Bears came out of the timeout in a 2-2-1 full court press. Griffin was able to force the Knights into turnovers, and get out in transition on offense. However, rather than attacking the basket in transition, the Bears settled for three-point shots, which they drained on a regular basis.
To start the fourth quarter, the two teams were tied at 47-47, but it was the Bears who quickly took the lead with yet another three-pointer. The Bears made four three-pointers in the period and outscored the Knights 22-18 in the final quarter of play. Upson-Lee freshman O’Qualon Harris tried his best to keep the Knights hopes for a victory alive, scoring 10 of his team high 19 points in the fourth quarter.
The Knights shot 8 of 19 from the free throw line, which also contributed to the loss. The Bears didn’t shoot much better from the charity stripe, but it was their eight three-pointers which ultimately earned them the 69-65 victory.
O’Qualon Harris paced the Knights with 19 points. Travis Pittman added 13 points and seven rebounds, David Marshall reached double figures with 12 points, as did Kenderious Pennyman with 10 points. Jalen Searcy and Toby Fuentes scored four points each, with Fuentes adding six assists and five steals, while Caleb Ward chipped in with three points.
The Knights (7-6, 3-4) will welcome the Riverdale Raiders (9-7, 5-2) to T-Town tonight. The Raiders are coming off of a 74-56 victory over Spalding. The key sub-region match-up is slated to tip off at 7:30 p.m.