Wildcats roll past Northwood
The Abbeville Wildcats just needed to get comfortable Friday night in their bi-district game against Northwood.
“We were a little nervous because we really didn’t know them,” said Abbeville center Keelon Lee.
The beginning of the game played out that way for the Wildcats. Northwoods jumped out to an 11-6 lead late in the first quarter. After that, the Wildcats’ nerves were gone. Abbeville ended the first quarter on a 7-2 run and rolled to a 70-48 win.
“We didn’t have a lot of information on them,” Abbeville head coach Berwick Hamilton said. “We could not prepare the way we would normally like. As the game went on, we found that basketball is basketball.”
That was the message Hamilton sent his players as the first quarter neared its end.
“Coach called a timeout,” Lee, who scored a game-high 17 points, said. “He told us to just go out there and play basketball.
“That is what we did.”
Abbeville began the second quarter on a 13-3 run. Dion Perry scored six of his 13 points during that stretch. Perry, who has not received an abundance of playing time this season, made the most of his time Friday.
“I told myself I was going to go out there and play hard,” Perry said. “I just wanted to make sure I stayed focused.”
Hamilton went to Perry looking to shake things up early for the Wildcats.
“We were a little off our game,” Hamilton said. “We needed a boost and Dion gave us that.
“That is exactly what you need to win in the playoffs.”
The Wildcats went into halftime leading 31-24 after Perry hit two free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“I told them to just keep doing what we were doing,” Hamilton said, “and that was going to get us through.”
The Wildcats listened to their coach. Abbeville started the second half with back-to-back baskets by Tiremone Williams. Perry followed with five straight points. After a basket by Brandon Lee, the Wildcats found themselves up 44-26 with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
Northwood cut the lead to 44-30 with 1:16 to go in the third. If Northwood had designs on cutting further into Abbeville’s lead, Kendrick Veney was not interested. The Wildcats’ powerful forward muscled in seven consecutive points, his only points of the night, to put Abbeville up 51-30 with 6:48 to go.
“When Kendrick is focused and doing his thing,” Hamilton said, “you know we are clicking.”
The Wildcats will look to take that into the second round as they play host to No. 13 Salmen, a winner over St. Martinville Friday. That game will be Tuesday at Abbeville High.
This is new ground for this group of Wildcats. They lost a close game to Alexandria last season.
“It feels good to be on the winning side,” Lee said. “Now we are going to get back to work and get ready for Salmen.”