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Live from the prequarterfinals at Grover

We're at Grover Cleveland to take in the prequarterfinals, I don't
think I'll have too many in-game updates but I'll certainly have some
summaries of the important stuff. Hey, it's the prequarterfinals 🙂

We'll also discuss all of tonight's winners during the live chat at 10 (click here or just scroll down).

7:20 p.m.
We officially have the first team to advance in the Section VI boys
basketball tournament (unless the prequarter at Hutch-Tech ended
sooner).

The winner here was Bennett, which made some big plays in the final moments to beat Lafayette, 66-62.

7:40 p.m. Okay -- a recap of what I saw. I walked in for the last three minutes, and it was a blast. 

The
first basket I saw was diminutive Andrew Ware hitting a high-arcing
three-pointer from the right corner to put Lafayette up, 60-58.

Bennett's
Deon Artis did an outstanding job at the end of the game -- including
right away on the Tigers' next possession. Artis crossed over one
defender and then split another to get to the lane to set up D.J.
Stuckey for a layup and a 60-60 tie with about two minutes to play.

A frenetic finish included a miss by Lafayette, a steal in which two
defenders overran a Bennett dribbler and a Lafayette turnover to give
Bennett the ball with 1 minute exactly left on the clock. The Tigers
called a timeout.

To back things up here, a faulty wire led to
the shot clock not being available for the game. So the game was played
without the 35-second ticker.

Bennett came out of the timeout
and smartly played keep away from some aggressive defenders before
working the ball back to Artis. I thought perhaps they were working the
clock all the way down, because it was close to the 30-second mark. But
they were just waiting for the right opportunity.

Artis again shook a defender to gain the lane and dished to Jamal Swans for a 62-60 lead with about 20 seconds left.

Lafayette
quickly inbounded the ball to try and tie, and boom -- there was Artis
again, leaping to make a steal and Bennett called a timeout with 13.3
seconds left. On Bennett's inbound play, Artis inbounded the ball, got
it back and was fouled with 10.1 seconds left. He coolly hit both free
throws to make it a two-possession game at 66-62.

Lafayette's
Steve Hall quickly drove the lane to cut the lead to two with 3.7
seconds left, but Bennett executed a nice inbounds play in which Swans
caught a touchdown pass and went in for a layup before the buzzer for a
66-62 final. (See lame phone-photo I took of postgame handshake).

Img588
7:55 p.m. The gym is filling up for the second game between Hutch-Tech and Middle College,
which should be a fun one as well. Seedings-wise, it's one of those 8-9
games we'll be hearing about in a few weeks during the first round of
the NCAA Tournament.

I'll be back at halftime.

8:36 p.m. After
the first half, Hutch-Tech has a 35-29 lead over Middle College. Kenny
Bulls hit two three-pointers in the opening quarter as Tech took a
15-13 lead and then Mike Daniels added two threes in the first 1:03 of
the second quarter.

The moment that everyone who was here will
be talking about, no matter how this game ends up, is how Middle
College's Darale Young shook a defender so bad, his momentum took him
from near the three-point lane way back to the baseline. The
super-sick, And-1-Mix-Tape-Tour move had fans on their feet while Young
still had the ball, and he finished it off by swishing a three-pointer.
A downright dastardly dribble. Whoa. I didn't see who the unfortunate
defender was, and that's probably a good thing.

That play was a
major momentum mover as well. Tech had an 21-13 lead after Daniels' two
three-pointers, but Young followed that three with another one during
an 8-0 run that tied the game at 21-21.

Tech took the lead back with some tough defense and a few nice transition baskets. 

8:45 p.m. The second half has started. I'm back after the game.

9:03 p.m. Hutch-Tech is playing very well -- the Engineers have a 59-48 lead heading to the fourth quarter. Things are working out so that I should be back at the office in time for the 10 p.m. chat. 

9:35 p.m. Final score: Hutch-Tech finishes off a great performance, 91-81, over Middle College.

* * *

Much later Wednesday night: Dejon Moore had a take-charge second half for the Engineers, helping them take the momentum back for good, even despite another spectacular highlight play for Middle College.

Moore hit a fadeaway jumper despite Young playing some serious defense, including having his long arm in Moore's face when he released the shot -- to put Tech up, 39-34, early in the third. He followed that with an off-balance, draw-contact-and-the-foul three-point play for a 42-34 lead.

Hutch-Tech seemed in control when Justin Stokes took a drive, went right down the lane, and elevated to ridiculous heights to throw down a left-handed jam. It was the most spectacular of several plays in which Stokes was well above other players.

Tech responded to that play with a clinically-run offensive set which ended with Daniels converting a shot down low from Sam Harris, then Wayne Williams hit a follow basket for a 50-36 lead with 3:20 left in the third. Tech was outstanding on the boards on both ends, creating several additional chances for themselves on offense and limiting those of Middle College, especially when the Kats settled for ill-advised three-pointers.

Young hit one three-pointer in the final minute of the third and added three in the fourth to keep things close, but Tech always responded with a big basket, either on a well-run play, a strong take by Moore or a rebound.

Justin Hawkins personified the Engineers' performance with cool, calm and collected point play -- knowing when to drive the lane, getting the ball in the right players' hands and also getting in the middle of things on defense. Very impressive game by Hawkins.

* * *

As always, if you took in a game tonight let us know what you saw in the comments section; or join us for the live chat below.

---Keith McShea

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