Warriors stage comeback over Comets

Stephanie King

Day one of the 29th Annual Courier-Tribune Christmas Invitational concluded with the Warriors of Wheatmore taking on the host school the Asheboro Blue Comets. Wheatmore entered the game 5-4 on the season, while the Comets came in at 6-3 on the season. These two teams have met in the past two tournament championships with each team coming away with a win (Asheboro – 2018, Wheatmore – 2017). The Warriors were looking to move on to their fourth straight tournament semifinal, while the Comets were hoping to advance to their seventh straight tournament semifinal.

It took a few minutes for either team to score but the Comets were the ones to break the scoreless streak with a free-throw from Tatum Marsh. Gavin Dennis put the Warriors on the board with a putback bucket before they added five more points to take a 7-1 lead over the Comets. Avery Jones scored the Comets’ first field goal of the night to cut the lead to one. Zach Berrier knocked down a jumper to extend the Warriors’ lead to six. The teams traded points to keep the lead at six before Thomas McIntosh drained back to back threes to tie the game at 11-11. Austin Biggs gave the lead back to the Warriors for a moment, but a three from Jordan McNair put the Comets on top 14-13. Biggs scored again to put the Warriors up by one before Kejuan Logan knocked down a fadeaway just before the buzzer. At the end of the first quarter, Asheboro led 16-15.

Asheboro opened the second quarter with back to back buckets from Jakiah Spencer and Noah Watkins to take a 20-15 lead. After a three from Damien Hill for the Warriors, Watkins drained a three for the Comets before scoring off a steal to push the lead to seven. Christian Duke knocked down a jumper, but the Comets answered with three on the other end from Watkins. Matt Craddock drained a three for the Warriors before Elias Austin and Logan scored back to back buckets for the Comets. Ben Walker swished a three and Zach Berrier knocked down a free-throw to cut the lead to five. The Warriors outscored the Comets 4-1 down the stretch but trailed Asheboro 33-31 at the half.

The Blue Comets extended their lead to four at the start of the third with a bucket from Watkins before a three from Jake Tuggle cut the lead to one for the Warriors. McIntosh answered with a three on the other end to put the Comets in front 38-34. The Warriors tied the game at 38-all on back to back buckets from Berrier but a pair of free throws from McIntosh broke the tie for the Comets. The teams traded buckets until a three from Tuggle put the Warriors in front 43-42. The teams went back to trading buckets as the lead stayed at one. The Comets were the last to score in the quarter taking a 48-47 lead after the third quarter.

A three from Watkins at the start of the fourth gave the Comets a 51-47 lead before Tuggle drilled a deep three to cut the lead to one for the Warriors. Jones worked down low and scored to put the Comets up by three but a three from Duke tied the game at 53-53. Spencer broke the tie for the Comets, and they held a one-point lead after a free-throw from the Warriors. Watkins knocked down a jumper to extend the Comets’ lead to three. Tuggle had the answer on the other end with a three for the Warriors to tie the game at 57-all. Asheboro responded with a 5-0 run for a 62-57 lead. Biggs ended the run with a bucket in the post to cut the lead to three. Berrier knocked down a jumper to cut the lead to one with just over three minutes left in the quarter. The Warriors ended up closing the game on a 7-0 run to pull off the comeback and defeat the Comets 68-62. The Warriors will face off against the Southwestern Randolph Cougars in the semifinals on Saturday at 7:30 PM.

Leading the way for the Warriors was Austin Biggs with 18 points. Jake Tuggle finished with 17 points, while Zach Berrier added 11. Noah Watkins led the Comets with 23 points, while Kejuan Logan notched five. Jakiah Spencer and Avery Jones each chipped in four for the Comets.

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