Hope Academy honored the lone senior on the team, Brown, prior to the game.
The first quarter was close with New Life closing the quarter with a 17-9 lead. They had opened up their lead by halftime and pushed it even further in the third quarter, when the game got away from Hope Academy.
New Life opened the game with an 8-0 lead, but Hope stayed in the game cutting the lead down to 10-7. New Life proceeded to go on a 13-2 run to gain a 23-9 advantage. New Life worked with their frontcourt players offensively while applying intense pressure defensively to create turnovers. T.J. Blevins had 10 points at the half for New Life, while center Jonah Ritchie had nine points.
“Last time we played them we had 42 (turnovers),” Hope Academy head coach Ricky Armstrong said. “I don’t think we had quite that many tonight, but, it was close. We just can’t handle that low pressure when they come running out at us. I think we looked scared out there. We just didn’t do a very good job. We’ve only got one senior. The kid [DeWayne Wallace] I had that played point last year transferred to TC Central. He’d really help us a lot, but we just didn’t handle pressure very well.”
New Life used a 10-0 run to open up their lead to 44-18 early in the third quarter. Hope Academy was able to gain some momentum late in the quarter when they had 8-2 run to close the gap to 49-29. Jamil Hannah started the run with a lay in basket, and it was followed by Ro Hodge made back-to-back driving baskets. In between Hodge’s two baskets, New Life’s Logan Jozwiak bricked an easy dunk as he didn’t get enough lift and the ball hit the rim. Hannah capped the run with a long range 2-point shot.
New Life killed Hope Academy’s momentum by going on a 10-2 run, opening up their lead to 59-31. By the final buzzer, Hope Academy loss 67-36.
Another issue for Hope Academy was following their shots.
“That’s been a problem all year long,” Armstrong said. “They shoot and take off running back. I don’t know if they think they’re going to miss it and they’re going to go ahead and play defense or maybe they think they’re going to hit it and they don’t have to follow their shot. That’s one of those skills we’re going to have to work on before next year.”
One of the few bright spots for Hope Academy was the stellar play of Jamil Hannah, who finished as the game’s leading scorer with 19 points.
“He does a great job,” Armstrong said. “Most of the time, he’s not selfish. He just about has to carry us sometimes. When we played them last time, we had to put him at point guard bringing the ball down because we had so many turnovers out of our guards, let him make a first pass and then go in, and line up because that was the only way to get the ball down against them. He’s a pretty legitimate player.”
Ro Hodge was second on the team in scoring with eight points, while Jay Jackson contributed six points.
For New Life, T.J. Blevins finished as the team’s leading scorer with 18 points.