Though he was well aware of what the scoreboard boasted — a seemingly comfortable 16-point lead midway through the third quarter — Wakefield Coach Tony Bentley wasn’t about to change his message during Tuesday’s home contest against Hayfield.
“Not like last time!” Bentley yelled to his players. “Don’t let up! Don’t let up!”
Last time was Jan. 4, when the Warriors first met AAA National District rival Hayfield. And last time, Wakefield’s nine-point halftime lead evaporated into a one-point loss. This time, thanks to a 19-0 run in the first half and strong third quarter, Wakefield cruised to a 79-55 victory in Arlington to avenge its lone district loss.
“The last time we played Hayfield, we were up by [nine] at the half and they came back and won,” Bentley said. “So that’s why I kept yelling until the end, ‘Don’t let up,’ because Hayfield can hit a few threes and be right back in it.”
After trading baskets for the first few minutes, Hopson energized the Warriors with eight consecutive points to end the first quarter. The junior’s scoring flurry snowballed into a 19-0 run as Hayfield (12-7, 7-4) went nearly eight minutes without a point and Wakefield built a 34-15 lead.
“When Khory got in foul trouble, I was just trying to be aggressive and shoot my mid-range shots to get going,” Hopson said. “Our defense was real big tonight and it helped us go on that big run.”
Hayfield rallied in the final two minutes of the half, with Hawks swingman Amir Atkins scoring eight of his 17 points to cut the halftime deficit to 12.
But with Bentley in their ear reminding them of how the first meeting unraveled, the Warriors put forth their best effort in the third quarter. Moore found his rhythm with strong drives to the rim and Dominique Tham made his mark in the paint with six of his 12 points. By the end of the period, the Warriors had outscored the Hawks, 24-8, and positioned themselves for what would be their sixth straight win.
“We knew what was on the line tonight and we just had to keep doing what we’ve been doing recently, which is make sure everybody eats and gets involved,” Moore said of an effort that saw nine Warriors score.
The contest marked Wakefield’s final regular season game on its home floor before moving to a new gym next season. In commemoration, the Warriors recognized players from the program’s past 60 years during a pregame ceremony.