It felt more like a district tournament game instead of a game taking place in the middle of January. The gym at University Heights was packed to the gills, in fact it was so full that they had to close the doors about half an hour before tipoff. The crowd was loud and racous, creating a tourney like atmosphere. Then, there was the game between the UHA Blazers and the Hopkinsville Tigers itself, and the game did not disappoint.
K.J. Crump rescued a loose ball and then hit a basket from the top of the key to force overtime. D.J. Quarles then came up with a big three point shot and a three point play to spur University Heights to a 71-66 overtime win over Hopkinsville Friday night at Blazer Gym.
The game was an all out battle from the opening tip. UHA lead by four points on two occasions early in the first quarter, before seeing the Tigers, behind the play of Don Victor, battle back to cut the lead to 13-12 at the end of the quarter.
With Victor continuing his hot start, Hopkinsville used a 10-0 run early in the second quarter to take a six point lead at 22-16. UHA responded by outscoring the Tigers 14-4 over the rest of the quarter to take a 30-26 lead at the half. The Blazers got five big points late in the half from Noah Shouse to put them back in the lead.
The third quarter felt like a heavyweight boxing match, where the two fighters stand in the middle of the ring and trade big punches back and forth. There were four lead changes and five ties in the quarter, which came to an end with the Blazers clinging to a 46-44 lead.
Authur McKnight took the game over for Hopkinsville in the 4th quarter. With McKnight driving to the basket for layups, or drawing fouls, Hopkinsville took the lead and moved it out to five points on two occasions, the last coming at 60-55 with 2:49 to go in the game. Amani McGee scored five quick points to draw UHA to within 62-60, setting up Crump’s heroics to send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Authur McKnight made two free throws to put the Tigers up 64-62. D.J. Quarles hit a three and then scored on an and-one to put the Blazers up 68-65. UHA was then able to knock down three free throws to seal the five point win. The Tigers had opportunities at the line in overtime, but could not get the shots to fall, allowing the Blazers to inch their way out to the win.
D.J. Quarles and Amani McGee both came up big for the Blazers. Quarles finished with 22 points, while McGee added 21. K.J. Crump also reached double figures with 12.
Authur McKnight had one of the best games of his career, finishing with 20 points on the night. Don Victor ended up with 17 points. Reece Jesse also got into double figures with 12.
With the win, University Heights improves to 7-8 on the season, and 3-0 in district play. Hopkinsville falls to 7-9 overall, and 1-2 in the 8th District.