HENDERSONVILLE – The Pope John Paul II Knights thought they had nothing to worry about in their rematch against Merrol Hyde Tuesday night after defeating the Hawks by 40 in their Hall of Fame game back in November.
JPII was looking to snap its now four-game losing streak, however, Merrol Hyde point guard Matthew Sykes had other plans.
Shooting 6-for-13 from deep, and 10-for-11 from the free throw line, Sykes dropped a game-high 38 points as Merrol Hyde bested JPII 71-68.
The come-from-behind victory for Merrol Hyde is its second win of the season and snaps the Hawks four-game losing skid.
“We played them at their place and to be honest we played well in the first quarter but then the game got away from us in a hurry,” Merrol Hyde coach Kory Craighead said. “I challenged them that if we could play with them for one quarter than we could play with them for two quarters and if we did that we would regroup at halftime. They accepted that challenge.”
Trailing 34-28 at halftime, Merrol Hyde roared back, outscoring JPII 28-17 to claim a 56-51 lead heading into the final quarter.
From there, Merrol Hyde sank just two buckets, but finished 11 of 13 from the charity stripe to seal the victory and the biggest win for Merrol Hyde in a long time.
“This is a huge win, no question about it,” Craighead continued. “Obviously, being very near by a lot of the teammates know one another, so for our program to see it in the [Hendersonville Standard], see it online that Merrol Hyde is able to not only hang with a program like JPII, but to also win is huge for us.”
Sykes netted six points from the foul line, not missing in the final quarter to help seal the victory for the Hawks. His performance did not go unnoticed.
“He has shown signs of doing this,” Craighead added. “I think, honestly, it’s because some of the other guys took some of the pressure off early, a couple guys were hitting shots that maybe don’t fall earlier in the year, which made JPII extend and allowed him to get some of the looks that he wants so bad.”
The loss is one that stings in the Knights locker room with coach Charles Wade saying they must be better, but at the end of the day, says it all starts with him.
“They were hitting tough shots, our rotation was bad,” Wade said. “We tried everything we could to cool of Sykes. I thought we did a better job of limiting him in the fourth quarter.
“I think we got a wake-up call tonight. We beat Merrol Hyde pretty big earlier in the year, (we) probably came in and took them a little light, didn’t pay attention to detail and they made us pay for it. I have to be a better coach than that. I’ve got to do a better job of preparing our kids.”
With the win, Merrol Hyde improves to 2-5, while JPII falls to 4-4.
BOYS BOX SCORE
Merrol Hyde (71): Matthew Sykes 38, Asher Wolthers 13, Jack Jones 10, Isaac Stinson 4, Ethan Hansen 3, Kolton Garvon 2, Trey Boswell 1
PJPII (68): Sam Specht 26, Sabino Otira 13, Timothy Lark 10, Taggart Patterson 7, Michael Martini 5, Judson Murray 4, Jarrett Lucombe 2, Ben Nixon 1