The girls remained unbeaten in the Mideastern Conference, while the boys climbed into the driver's seat for the lone automatic 4A playoff spot
Lola Lovitt opened Friday's game against Laney with a free throw for her 1,000th career point. She ended it 31 minutes later with a pull up jumper from just inside the arc with just under 10 seconds remaining.
In a defensive struggle, the Hoggard girls basketball team scored on four of its final five possessions to secure a 33-31 victory at Sheila Boles Gymnasium. It put them in sole possession of first place in the Mideastern Conference standings.
"When I went down and shot it I wasn’t thinking about anything," Lovitt said. "I didn’t shoot very well, but I made the one that counted."
Hoggard (14-2, 6-0) won the first matchup between the teams 52-49 in the Leon Brogden Holiday Tournament semifinals. They will square off at Laney on Jan. 26.
The teams shot a combined 3 of 25 in the opening eight minutes. Offense didn't pick up until the third quarter, when five of the first six possessions ended with a field goal.
Laney (14-2, 4-1) built a 22-17 lead on a 3-point play from freshman Saniya Rivers with 3:29 to play in the period. She finished tied for a game-high with 11 points. The Vikings began chipping away and took their first lead since 5-2 on a Keeley Britt free throw with 5:38 remaining in the game.
"You have to give a lot of credit to Laney," Hoggard coach Boubacar Aw said. "From two weeks ago, they made some really good adjustments and it took us a while to figure it out."
Despite turning the ball over 15 times, Hoggard made 6 of 8 free throw attempts. Laney only committed eight turnovers, but was a dismal 4 of 15 from the charity stripe.
Mia Boone hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to put the home team back in front 30-28 with 2:00 on the clock. They held the lead until Sydni Simpson connected on a pair of free throws with 22.3 seconds left to tie it.
"Mia is the X-factor for our team," Aw said. "She does so much for us and you really don’t hear her name a lot in the paper. She goes after people, she rebounds and she can hit the 3-pointer."
Following Simpson's second free throw, the Buccaneers picked up full court and nearly forced a 10 second violation, but Keeley Britt found Lovitt down the left sideline. She took two dribbles and pulled up for the game winner. Lovitt finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, while Britt put home 11 points to go along with seven rebounds.
Laney had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Rivers pass for Jenson Edwards was a little to long and went out of bounds with .5 seconds left.
BOYS: Hoggard 63, Laney 56 (OT)
The Vikings (9-7, 5-1 Mideastern) shook off Wednesday's lackluster performance at West Brunswick with a hard-fought victory that put them in the driver's seat for the lone automatic 4A playoff berth.
All 11 of Hoggard's overtime points were scored by sophomores. Sabastian Haidera opened the four-minute session with a 3-pointer. He also added a pair of free throws in the final seconds to finish with 18 points. Jhamir Shaw added 11 points, while senior Tyler Matlock paced the home team with 21 points.
"We went after it in practice and competed on Thursday, and I felt like they needed to do that to get that out of our system from Wednesday night," Hoggard coach Brett Queen said. "I thought we competed tonight. We weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we competed. We're still trying to figure ourselves out."
Laney (9-6, 2-3) got a game-high 31 points from its sophomore standout, Marc McLaurin.
The victory improved the Vikings to 2-0 against the league's other 4A schools. They needed three overtimes to defeat Ashley on Jan. 2.
"There's not much difference between us, so it's going to be a battle for that top 4A spot," Queen said. "You have to protect your home court and we've done a good job of that so far."
- Reporter Tim Hower can be reached at 910-343-2366 or Tim.Hower@StarNewsOnline.com