HENDERSONVILLE - The Merrol Hyde Magnet School Hawks broke open a tight game by outscoring the KIPP-Nashville Warriors 27-10 in the fourth quarter on its way to a 77-55 victory in the District 7-A tournament semifinals on Friday at Merrol Hyde.
The win earned the Hawks a spot in the district tournament championship game on Saturday on their home court against LEAD Academy, which is undefeated in district play so far this season.
“They’re a solid team,” Merrol Hyde head coach Kory Craighead said of LEAD. “We’ve got to take care of the ball. They will be in our face for four quarters.
“We need to stay calm like we did tonight,” he added.
Against KIPP, Merrol Hyde took a 16-8 lead after the first quarter and pushed it to 22-10 early in the second quarter.
But KIPP started chipping away at the lead and tied the score at 26-26 on a 3-pointer by Kyle Wesley.
The Hawks responded by taking a 31-27 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, Merrol Hyde took a 48-39 lead on a 3-pointer by Kolton Garvon, one of his four 3-pointers in the game.
Again, Kipp chipped away and cut the deficit to 48-45, before a basket by Asher Wolthers gave Merrol Hyde a 50-45 lead after three quarters.
“We knew KIPP was going to make runs,” Craighead said. “We tried to play settled (offense).”
In the fourth quarter, the Hawks pulled away behind two 3-pointers by Isaac Stinson, one each from Matthew Sykes, Garvon and Ethen Hansen. They also were six-for-six from the free throw line down the stretch.
“We took care of the ball well,” Craighead said. “We moved the ball well and made the extra pass.
“In the second half we didn’t settle for shots,” he continued. “We did that some in the first half.”
“We talked about it at the half,” Stinson added. “We had to calm down. Slow down a little bit.” When KIPP cut the lead, we were confident the whole time. We knew they would go on some runs. We just needed to stay calm.”
Merrol Hyde went 16-for-19 from the free throw line for the game, “Which was just huge,” Craighead said. “We tell the kids that at tournament time you’ve got to hit your free throws.”
Wesley led KIPP in scoring with 22 points. Jordan Ewing added 13 and Jeremiah Ewing 12.
All five Merrol Hyde starters scored in double figures, led by Stinson with 22 points. He was followed by Sykes with 17, Wolthers 14, Garvon 12 and Hansen 10.
“He’s really been coming along,” Craighead said of Stinson, the first junior in school history to hit 1,000 points for his career.
Merrol Hyde’s record now stands at 17-7. The Hawks have already qualified for the Region 4 tournament and will host a region tournament game on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Merrol Hyde (77) Isaac Stinson 22, Matthew Sykes 17, Asher Wolthers 14, Kolton Garvon 12, Ethan Hansen 10, Stockton Pyne 2.
KIPP (55) Kyle Wesley 22, Jordan Ewing 13, Jeremiah Ewing 12, Deon Trotter 5, Trey Wright 2, Xavier Wright 1.