KNIGHTDALE — The East Wake and Knightdale boys basketball teams gave off vibes of a potential overtime period for nearly three quarters Friday night.
The vibes then changed in a hurry. Each of East Wake’s two leading scorers picked up a fourth foul in the final 14 seconds of the third quarter and the Knights capitalized on the foul situation on the way to a 77-66 triumph over the Warriors.
“I think East Wake and ourselves, we both play the same type of basketball,” Knightdale coach Anthony Byrd said. “There’s going to be a lot of fouls, and whoever can keep their key players in the game is going to be critical.”
With East Wake forwards Quincy Jackson (21 points) and Nahjuwan Potts (15) on the bench for the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, Knightdale turned a shaky 5-point lead into a more comfortable 9-point cushion. The Knights led by at least seven points from there onward.
“It really hurt East Wake tonight,” Byrd said of foul trouble. “They had to sit down some of their key players, and I noticed that, and we wanted to take advantage of that.
“I think if that would have happened to us at that point in the game, they would have done the same thing.”
Knightdale improved to 13-3 overall and 6-1 in Greater Neuse River 4A play. East Wake slid to 10-5, 3-3.
The Warriors had their hands full with Knightdale juniors Ronshad Allen-Shabazz and Daquan Lilly, who combined for 55 points. Allen-Shabazz’s 33-point effort was seven points shy of his career high.
“With Daquan on the inside, just being a versatile basketball player, it’s hard for people to match up with him,” Byrd said. “But with Ronshad out there, with the way he shoots the basketball, that’s really the key to our basketball team.”
A slam by Lilly capped a 12-0 run that put Knightdale up 15-4 with two minutes left in the opening quarter, but East Wake closed the frame with a 9-2 surge to keep it a 4-point game.
Senior guard Kyle Lockett made a pair of free throws late in the second quarter to pull East Wake within 33-32. Knightdale led 35-34 at the half, when Potts already had three fouls.
Three of the game’s five ties came in the third quarter, the first at 39 at the 4:18 mark. Potts spun into the lane at 2:11 and threw up a backward, no-look shot that sank to even the count at 43. Jackson made it 47-all with his 3-pointer with a minute to go in the third.
Consecutive dunks from Allen-Shabazz and Lilly gave Knightdale a spark and a 64-53 lead with 3:16 left in the game. Byrd used timeouts to manage the pace of play in the final minutes.
“We wanted to make sure after we scored we didn’t give them the opportunity to come back and get quick scores,” Byrd said. “We wanted to slow the the game down a bit, eat some of the clock up.”
Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews