Hawthorne, FL. Written By: Kyrin Mayfield
There’s no better time to get revenge than in the playoffs. That’s what the Hawthorne Hornets were hoping to do on Tuesday night.
On that night, they hosted the Madison County Cowboys in the FHSAA Class 1A regional finals. It was practically déjà vu for the Hornets. They lost to the Cowboys in last year’s regional semifinals 70-40. Hawthorne was hoping for a drastically different outcome, while Madison County’s Travis Jay was hoping for a repeat performance of his triple-double last year.
Hawthorne was a different team this time around. They came in with a 25-1 record with an 18 game winning streak. They had a shut-down defense only giving up 40 points per game. The offense, however, was struggling--hitting only 38 percent from the field and 15 percent from beyond-the-arc over the last two games. Meanwhile, Madison County is running on a high-powered, 68 point-per-game offense. Their only three losses on the season all came on the road.
Scoring started within seconds as Hawthorne won the tip and passed it down the court to Devonte Bowie, who laid it in. Teams traded six-point runs, and Hawthorne led 10-8. Madison County retook the lead, but the Hornets’ Kahleil Jackson dribbled up the court slowly, held up one finger while looking back at the team’s bench, and then nailed a three.
Hawthorne was up 15-12 at the end of the first quarter. The Cowboys’ Dilan Lawson grabbed an impressive seven boards.
Madison County began the second on a 5-0 run, but Hawthorne went on a 10-1 run to go up 25-18. At the end of the half, the Cowboys’ Jay hit a jaw-dropping buzzer-beating half-court shot. Hawthorne still led, 27-23.
Just two minutes into the third quarter, both teams scored a combined eleven points, with Hawthorne up 32-29. Madison County’s zone defense began to frustrate the Hornets as they continued to pass the ball along the arc looking for a hole. There wasn’t many.
“I think switching it up to the 2-3 zone kinda bothered them,” Madison County head coach Allen Demps said. “We rode it out till the end. It came up big for us.”
The Cowboys eventually took the lead and ended the quarter up 44-40 thanks to nine points from Jay.
Hawthorne wasn’t giving up. They retook the lead with a 6-0 run to go up 46-45. The scary moment for Hornets fans came with three minutes left in the game. Bowie went up for a rebound, but came down hard and stayed down on the court for a few minutes. Thankfully, he got up and walked to the bench. A few minutes later, he checked back into the game. Madison County held on to the lead, though, and won 53-48.
Jay led the Cowboys with 20 points despite not scoring in the final quarter. He also had six rebounds and four assists. Lawson controlled the glass with nine rebounds.
The Hornets were led by three players who scored 12 points each: Alphonso Williams, Mike Reed and Bowie. Reed also had 13 rebounds.
Hawthorne finished the season an impressive 25-2. Madison County (24-3) heads to Lakeland to face Paxton (29-1) in the FHSAA 1A state semifinals on March 4.