Trojans come all the way back from 16-point deficit to stun Bulldogs

WORTON — Anyone of a certain age might recall the 1970s-era Weeble, a roly-poly toy with a round bottom that when pushed would wobble but not fall down.

Kent County High School’s varsity boys on Tuesday night were a lot like Weebles; they were pushed around but never knocked out in their 65-63 victory here against the Bulldogs of North Caroline.

It was a come-from-behind thriller with Jonah Somerville’s layup with 3.0 seconds remaining as the game-winner.

The Trojans came all the way back from a 16-point second-half deficit.

They avenged an 85-48 loss at North Caroline at the beginning of the month, and picked themselves up after a 45-point beatdown the night before at home against Kent Island’s Buccaneers.

“It’s there. All they have to do is play hard together. Tonight proved it,” KCHS coach Sobaye Scott told The Evening Enterprise on Tuesday.

For the entire fourth quarter, Kent County (5-9) went with the five of JySir Valentine, Larry Steward, Dwan Harris, Landon Wallace and Somerville, who were tasked with wiping out a 50-39 deficit after three.

Somerville’s winning layup accounted for his only points of the second half.

Wallace didn’t score at all, but played terrific defense and hustled from one end of the court to the other.

Harris scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter with clutch buckets.

But it was slam-dunking Steward (25 points) and Valentine (21 points) who carried the Trojans across the finish line with nine points apiece in the final frame.

Back-to-back field goals from Somerville and Steward to open the game and a Rah Zir Wilson 3-pointer followed by a Valentine putback gave Kent County a 9-2 lead three and a half minutes in.

The visiting Bulldogs, led by Nasai Bell, Tyson Weber and Sam Holland, pieced together a 14-2 run to take a 16-11 lead with 1:47 remaining in the first quarter, forcing Scott to burn a time-out.

Weber’s 3-pointer with 2:05 to play in the opening stanza gave the Bulldogs a 14-11 lead, and they never trailed again until Somerville’s game-winning layup.

Kent was behind, 16-13, at the end of the first frame after a Mehki Rogers’ layup on the final shot of the quarter.

Rogers scored the first points of the second quarter to bring the Trojans within a point, 16-15, but the Bulldogs answered with an 11-0 run punctuated by Weber’s three-point play to extend their lead to 27-15 with just under four minutes remaining in the half. 

The spread at intermission was 31-21.

North Caroline took its largest lead of the night at 45-29 just 3:40 into the second half, forcing Scott to burn another time-out.

When play resumed, Steward, Valentine and Harris collectively scored the next 10 points to get Kent within single digits, 45-39, with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter. 

North Caroline’s Jarvis Thomas closed out the quarter with five unanswered points, a pair of free throws at 1:41 and a long-distance jumper with 12.3 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs pushed their lead back up to as many as 13 points, 57-44, on Quinneil Gross’ field goal from outside the arc with 5:50 remaining.

KCHS made it a one-possession game, 57-54, with 3:33 to go following a 10-0 run that included back-to-back slams from Valentine (one-handed) and Steward (two-handed), but North Caroline responded with six unanswered points to pull ahead, 63-54, on a Zymear Smith layup.

The Bulldogs did not score again.

Harris’ mid-range jumper pared the deficit down to 63-59 with 1:18 remaining.

Valentine took the charge at the other end on North Caroline’s next possession, and now it was the opposing coach who called time with just inside a minute to play.

On the restart, Steward came up with a steal at midcourt and scored uncontested to again make it a one-possession game, 63-61.

After the Bulldogs’ empty possession, Harris knotted the score at 63-all with just under 30 seconds remaining.

With fouls to give, the Trojans intentionally tagged Gross on the ensuing inbounds play. 

When Valentine grabbed the rebound after Gross missed both attempts from the stripe, Scott called one final time-out with the clock showing 13.2 seconds.

Harris inbounded the ball under the Bulldogs’ basket, Somerville cleanly caught the pass and dribbled some time off the clock. With 3.0 seconds remaining, the 2023 team MVP banked a shot off the glass that bounced around the iron and then dropped through the net for a 65-63 lead.

North Caroline called a time-out to set up one last play, and to be able to inbound the ball at midcourt. 

Bell made the initial pass and then quickly took a spot at the right corner for the last shot. But his 3-point attempt was off the mark as the horn sounded, setting off a celebration among Kent County players and fans.

NEXT UP: The Trojans are headed to St. Michaels tomorrow (Feb. 1) for a girls-boys doubleheader. The girls tip off at 4 p.m., followed by the boys at about 5:30 p.m.

 

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