- Gainesville, FL. Written By: Kyrin Mayfield
Writers are supposed to avoid clichés, but saving the best for last perfectly describes this matchup.
In the final regular season game for both teams, the Hawthorne Hornets traveled to the P.K. Yonge Blue Wave for a battle between two of the area’s top teams. They came in with a combined 42-4 record.
The Hornets entered on a 13-game winning streak, and were 21-0 against in-state opponents. The Blue Wave have won four in a row, with their last three coming by a combined eight points. They know how to close games out.
These teams played back on January 25, when Hawthorne squeaked out a 54-49 win. The sold-out crowd crowd at P.K. Yonge was hoping for another close game.
However, it was not a good start to the game for the Blue Wave. They found themselves in an 8-3 hole early. The came back within three after both teams traded three-point fouls, but Hawthorne led 21-13 at the end of the first quarter. The Hornets started the second quarter on another run, going up 27-13. A steal by Hawthorne's Mike Reed allowed him to quickly drive to the hoop and slam the ball down, giving Hawthorne a 33-15 lead. The Hornets scored 12 points in three minutes. Neither team could find then net in the following three minutes, but Hawthorne started to heat up again. They nailed two three-point shots towards the end of the half---including a buzzer-beating trey from Devonte Bowie.
The Hornets led 39-16 after P.K. Yonge managed to score only three points in the entire quarter, all of which were free throws. The Hornets were out-rebounding the Blue Wave 16-7, and had seven assists to their zero.
In the third quarter, the Hornets increased their lead to 29. It was looking like a blowout. P.K. Yonge managed to shrink the gap a little bit, but Hawthorne led 54-32 with only eight minutes left to play.
Surprisingly, the entire crowd stayed. Fans would usually chalk this up as a loss and head home, but both sides had dedicated fan bases. Luckily for them, the next quarter would be the craziest of the entire game.
The Blue Wave began it with an 8-0 run. The deficit was only 54-40. The gap was cut all the way down to 61-55 with three minutes left. P.K. Yonge’s shots were finally falling. Meanwhile, Hawthorne had trouble shooting free-throws. They went 13-for-22 from the charity stripe in the quarter.
The Blue Wave closed the gap down to four points with two minutes left. The crowd was as loud as it was, all game. After cutting a 22-point deficit down to four in just six minutes, P.K. Yonge had a chance to win. Their chance was short lived, though. They couldn’t get any closer to the Hornets and lost 71-65. The Blue Wave did manage to put up a hefty 33 points in the quarter, more than the other three quarters combined (32).
Alex Dubois and Bowie led Hawthorne in scoring with 17 and 15 points, respectively. Reed contributed nine rebounds, with four of them being offensive. P.K. Yonge was led by Jalen Speer and Byron Smith with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Speer also had four steals. Danny Dawson entered the game in the third quarter and grabbed an impressive eight boards in his short amount of playing time.
Hawthorne (22-1) finishes the year on a 14-game winning streak. They host their district tournament, which begins on February 12. P.K. Yonge (21-4) heads to Maclay for its district tournament. That also begins on February 12.