By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
SHANNON – Shannon kept inching closer but Aberdeen kept pulling away – and for the second time this season, the Bulldogs (16-2) handed the Red Raiders (11-7) a loss, 79-71.
“I felt like we did a pretty good job on the offensive end executing. We’ve just got to step it up a little better on defense,” Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle said. His team has won 12 in a row.
Shannon trimmed a 43-33 halftime lead down to 66-61 on a free throw from Lakee Westbrook with 5:23 to play but Aberdeen, as it did throughout the final quarter, answered. Brandon Hodges scored on an inbounds pass and Earnest Williams seconds later muscled his way inside for a 75-65 lead.
Williams had 18 points for Aberdeen, two behind Rico Haughton’s 20, 18 on 3-pointers, five of them in the first half.
“Every time those 3s go down, they’re very big,” Hazzle said. “Rico’s 3s were very big.”
Haughton’s biggest shots may have been the two free throws he hit with 19.4 seconds to play for a 77-71 lead after Aberdeen missed two front ends on one-and-ones and Shannon got within six points on Javon Green’s bucket.
Green had 23 to lead all scorers. Gary Copeland had 15 for Shannon. Westbrook and Jemar Clifton had 14 apiece.
“We didn’t play as well as we can play defensively but our guys kept fighting,” said Shannon coach Cedric Brim. “Every time we’d get within two or three they’d come down and hit a big shot.”
Shannon took its only lead of the night at 30-28 on Green’s 3-pointer with 4:38 left in the half but Aberdeen went on a 15-3 run to end the half.
(G) Shannon 54 Aberdeen 46
Shannon (2-10) used an 8-0 fourth quarter run to break open a tight game, taking a 44-36 lead on Aushiana Ivy’s jumper in the lane.
Jamisha Washington had tied the game at 36 for Aberdeen (10-7) on 1 of 2 free throws before the run.
Ivy led all scorers with 31 points. For Aberdeen, Regina Barker had 16.
Aberdeen got within four points twice in the final 2:18 but key free throws from Tam Tally and Ivy sealed the win.