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Round 5 (Regular Season)

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Huntersville Hoopforlyfe slips past Charlotte Elite, 112-111 - Jan 12, 2016


POSTED BY:
IGOR OBRADOVIC
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As advertised, when Huntersville Hoopforlyfe and the Charlotte Elite met, the two teams from Mecklenburg County, it was an instant classic. The reigning Western Conference champion Charlotte Elite were coming off of a blowout win against the number one team last week and looking to continue turning their season around after some tough early season late-game collapses. Their crosstown rivals, the Huntersville HoopforLyfe who were coming off of a tough road loss last weekend, were looking to get back to their winning ways.

The scene was set. With a packed house full of fans almost equally divided between the the two teams from the Charlotte area, both squads played a 48 full minutes of playoff-like, intense basketball. The first half was played nearly even, with neither team ever gaining much of an advantage. Huntersville went into halftime leading 51-48.

In the third quarter, however, HoopforLyfe came alive behind the hot shooting of Jeremy Basnight (18 points and 5 rebounds) who hit 4 of his 6 three-pointers in the period. Equally as important for the Huntersville team, in the third period, was the reemergence of their floor leader Dijuan Harris. In the first half, Harris had been held to 5 points and two assists by one of Charlotte's best defenders, Martin Barrett (11 points and 10 rebounds). However in the pivotal third quarter, Harris scored 5 points but more importantly dished out 5 assists to help HoopforLyfe go up by 11 points heading into the final period.

After watching the lead balloon to 15 points, Charlotte Elite switched to a small lineup and it instantly paid dividends, with Ryan Scott (18 points) hitting 3 consecutive three-pointers and the Elite defense repeatedly making plays and holding Huntersville to single possessions. By the 1:13 mark the host team from Charlotte had clawed its way back into the game and trailed 108-107 after a basket by Barrett, with an assist from wily guard Ryan Carter (13 points and 3 assists).

Following two made free throws by Harris (14 points and 8 assists), Charlotte relied on its captain, Terrone Sheffey (27 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds). Sheffey delivered by scoring and then scoring again after a huge open court steal by Carter that put the Elite ahead for the first time since the first half, 111-110, with 11 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Keith Gabriel, who scored all of his field goals in the paint, did so again, hitting a running floater while getting fouled with 1.1 seconds remaining in the game. Gabriel (20 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists) missed the foul shot and Charlotte corralled the rebound and immediately called timeout.

After receiving an inbounds pass from Richard Barbee (13 points), Barrett shot a contested 15-footer that rattled around the rim before bouncing out as the buzzer sounded, sealing the victory for Huntersville, 112-111. The shot was eerily reminiscent of the one Barrett made as the buzzer sounded last season in the Western Conference championship game to end Hoopforlyfe's season.

These crosstown rivals seem to only play nail-biters when they meet and lucky for Mecklenburg and surrounding counties basketball fans that they play again in two weeks at Lake Norman Charter on January 24th.
  




Ian Gregory
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