Boys' Basketball

Upset Lands in Haymon's Hands

National Christian's Antonio Haymon and Jasper Williams of No. 16 Progressive Christian wrestle for a loose ball.
National Christian's Antonio Haymon and Jasper Williams of No. 16 Progressive Christian wrestle for a loose ball. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
By Carl Little
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, December 31, 2006

National Christian's Antonio Haymon had been there before. With his team ahead by two points over Progressive Christian with four seconds remaining, the senior forward stepped to the free throw line with the opportunity to seal the win. Haymon's mind flashed back to a tournament in Alaska last season in which he missed a pair of free throws.

So with a chance at redemption, Haymon clanked the free throw attempt off the front of the rim, creating a pileup for the basketball. But in the end, he sealed the game by grabbing the loose ball as time expired as National Christian hung on to defeat No. 16 Progressive Christian, 69-67.

"I was thinking 'I'm about to make this,' " a relieved Haymon said of his free throw attempt. "I didn't want anybody to shake my hand or touch my hand before I shot. I was thinking back to last year, and that kind of threw me off right there."

On the rubber floor at the National Christian Academy Holiday Tournament championship game, Haymon scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, both team highs, to help continue what has been a strong but quiet start to the season.

Progressive Christian (9-2) was bothered by the Eagles' size and athleticism early but bounced back from a 12-point first quarter deficit to trail 46-42 at halftime. The Conquerors managed to pull to two in the third quarter, but National Christian's David Diakite (15 points) and Brian McMikle (four points) scored six straight to extend the lead.

Virginia Tech recruit Gus Gilchrist led another Progressive Christian charge in the fourth quarter, scoring his team's first seven points of the period, including a nifty reverse layup around three defenders to cut it to 63-61. But it was not enough as Harmon took over.

Gilchrist finished with a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds.

"Gus [Gilchrist] is just what he is," said National Christian Coach Trevor Brown, who called for double- and triple-teams against the 6-foot-10 forward. "He's a good ACC player, and every time I see him he just keeps getting better and better."

National Christian (6-2) had been plagued by poor free throw shooting this season, and those woes continued last night when the Eagles made 12 of 28 in the game and 1 of 4 in the fourth quarter.

National Christian 69, No. 16 Progressive Christian 67 Things Are Looking Up: National Christian's starting lineup averages 6 feet 5. At 6-0, senior guard Brian McMikle is the shortest. Streak Snapped: Before last night's game, Progressive Christian had won seven straight by an average of 51.5 points. During that span, the Conquerors' closest game came on the road at St. Stephen's/St. Agnes, where they won by 13 points earlier this month

© 2006 The Washington Post Company