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3A MEN’S WESTERN REGIONAL FINAL RECAP: Robinson stuns Hickory 67-66 in OT thriller

JAY M. ROBINSON ADVANCES TO 3A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH OVERTIME WIN OVER HICKORY

BY: Evan Moesta

Jay M. Robinson High School jumped out to a fast start in the 3A Boys Basketball Western Regional Final but had to hold off a valiant effort from Hickory to win 67- 66 in overtime on a putback basket from Javonte Misenheimer with 2.9 seconds left in the extra period.

Robinson star, Lavar Batts Jr. opened the ball game with two baskets, and his teammates Rashon Gray, and Daniel Spencer got in on the early fun with layups for themselves to take an 8-3 lead and force a Red Tornado timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Caron Corpening and Jackson Sigman would help Hickory battle back to an 8-8 tie after one frame.

The Bulldogs went cold in the second quarter and it allowed Hickory to go on a 10-3 run to take their largest lead of the first half. Jay M. Robinson would respond though as Javonte Misenheiner trimmed the deficit and Batts Jr. blocked a Hickory three point attempt and took it the length of the court for the hoop and the harm. With 37.4 seconds left in the second quarter, 6’1 senior Jordan McKenzie would put the Bulldogs back on top with a floater in the lane. That lead evaporated moments later as Chase Boyd’s long three from the right wing with less than a second remaining in the half sent Hickory to the locker room with a 27-25 lead. Boyd led all players at half with 7 rebounds. Batts Jr. led all scorers at half with 10 points.

Robinson came out firing in the third quarter as Batts netted the first two scores of the period, then he grabbed a defensive rebound, and dropped a dime in transition to Rashon Gray for two. Daniel Spencer followed with a putback layup of his own, and then a three point play to give the Bulldogs a 39-35 lead going into the final quarter. That’s when the game would escalate into an instant classic.

Jordan McKenzie would spot up to knock down a corner three for Robinson, but Chase Boyd would answer with a pull up jumper on the other end. Boyd would foul out a minute later after scoring 7 points and grabbing a team high 9 rebounds. With one of the team’s leading scorers out of the game, the Red Tornadoes would have multiple players step up big down the stretch following two more strong finishes, and a left handed jam from Lavar Batts Jr. to give the Bulldogs a 48-39 lead. Kaleb Hewitt would sink a left wing three to cut it to a six point game, then Mykell Lineberger’s putback layup made it a four point game. Robinson would score once more but Hickory answered right away as Jackson Sigman’s reverse layup, and Zack Walker’s putback score got the team within two at 52-50 with under two minutes left in the ballgame.

Robinson’s Daniel Spencer sunk a pair of free throws with 55.7 left to increase it back to a four point game then Hewitt found nothing but net on the other end to make it a one point game. The last minute back and forth affair was just beginning as Spencer went back to the line to down two more free throws to give the Bulldogs a 56-53 lead. Lineberger got it back to one and McKenzie answered with more free throws to make it 58-55 with 19.3 seconds left. That’s when Hickory’s Marcus Young hit the only one of his ten three point attempts to send things to overtime at 58-58.

In the extra frame, Kaleb Hewitt would hit the final two of his 12 points to give the Red Tornadoes a 64-61 lead but it was Spencer who rose to the occasion again with a coast- to-coast score to cut it to a one point game with just over a minute to play. Each team would exchange a pair of free throw makes over the course of the next 40 seconds to keep the game in Hickory’s favor at 66-65. Marcus Young missed the front end of a 1- and-1 with 18.7 left and Robinson proceeded to storm down court to take a 67-66 lead with 2.9 seconds left on a Daniel Spencer miss that Javonte Misenheimer put back in for his fifth offensive rebound and sixth point of the night. Hickory’s three quarter court shot at the buzzer failed to fall, and for the first time in school history, the Jay M. Robinson Bulldogs are advancing to a 3A State Championship.

Daniel Spencer and Lavar Batts Jr. led the Bulldogs in scoring with 24 points each. Spencer grabbed 5 rebounds in the win, and Batts Jr. added 7 to follow second and third behind Misenheimer ,who’s 10 boards led all players. Hickory’s leading scorer Mykell Lineberger finished with 17 points, and Kaleb Hewitt’s late game baskets were enough for 12 points on the night. Zack Walker finished third in scoring with 10 points for the Red Tornadoes.

Jay M. Robinson will face Terry Sanford in the 3A Boys Basketball State Championship in Chapel Hill. The battle of the Bulldogs will be Jay M. Robinson’s first, but for Terry Sanford (Fayetteville), it will be their fourth. They are out to defend their state championship from a year ago after topping Ashbrook by a score of 67-60.