The Midway and James Kenan rivalry goes back to the days of the East Central 2A Conference and was rekindled in the 1990’s when the Duplin County school joined the 1A ranks. The rivalry has been dominated by the Tigers since the retirement of legendary Raider coach Brinson Hunter in 2000. Until now.
Friday night, coach Leonard Henry’s Raiders grabbed an early lead, weathered a storm or two, and held on for a 63-55 victory over the visitors from Warsaw.
The Raiders got back-to-back 3 pointers from Andre Sankey and Jordan Thompson to post an early 6-0 lead before the Tigers hit a free throw to get on the board. The visitors came on strong late in the quarter with 8 unanswered points and posted a 15-14 lead after trailing most of the period.
Midway trailed 21-16 before a 12-0 run put them ahead 28-21 with four minutes left in the second frame. They maintained a 7 point lead at intermission at 37-30.
The Raiders were held to only 6 points in the third quarter as James Kenan cut the lead to 43-42 with one quarter to play.
Sankey nailed a 3-pointer as the quarter began to give the Raiders a 4-point lead. The Tigers answered with a tre of their own and kept it close throughout. The visitors had opportunities to tie or take the lead, but were never able to do so. The Tigers missed at the free throw line at the 2:12 mark and trailing by 1.
Raheem Thomas and Jordan Thompson both delivered at the charity stripe for the home team and James Kenan was facing a 7 point deficit with 1:26 to go. They didn’t get any closer as the Raiders held on for the 63-55 win.
Quincy Baggett led the Raiders offensively with 19 points. Jordan Thompson was close behind with 18. Sankey posted 9 points. Raheem Thomas added 6, while Justin Thompson scored 5. Taylor Calcutt and Michael Hall contributed 3 points each.
Antonio Smith scored 22 points to lead James Kenan.
The Raiders are 8-6 overall and 3-2 in Tri-County Conference.
“One thing that we try to do this year with the coaching staff is to create a competitive atmosphere,” asserted coach Henry. “That’s what you’re seeing in the games because we practice like that. We’re very competitive. No one man or no one team is dominant. Overall we’re starting to have a little bit of fight in us. Even when we give up a big lead, we’re starting to rise back up to the situation.”
The Raiders will travel to Union on Thursday. “Union is playing really good basketball right now,” added Henry. “But I believe if we focus on the things we do best and can go down there with the right mind frame, we can put up a good game,”.