Tornado Jump Back into League Play with Win Over NGU
King (10-3, 2-0) jumped out to a 22-8 lead just six minutes into the game, setting a tone for the first half in which they took a 15-point lead into the locker room. Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) made four of his five three pointers in consecutive attempts during the run to help the Tornado to the early lead.
North Greenville (4-3, 0-2) outscored King by ten points in the second half but did not have enough steam to overcome the margin accumulated by the Tornado in the first half. The Crusaders brought the game to within three points with less than a minute remaining via a late run. With the score 75-71, NGU's Chris Dean was fouled following an offensive rebound sending him to the free throw line. After hitting his first attempt but falling short on the second. With a defensive rebound by senior center Lio Gideon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas), the game turned into a free throw competition that King successfully outlasted the Crusaders in, hitting four of their next six shots from the line toward a 79-74 final score.
Hewitt led all scorers with 23 points, hitting 8-of-14 shots taken from the field and going 5-for-8 from distance. He shot a perfect 2-for-2 from the charity stripe with three rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals in 28 minutes played.
Eddie Piccinini (Orland, Fla.) was one of three Tornado players to score in double digits and the second player to hit more than 50 percent of his three-point attempts. The junior captain hit 4-of-6 three-point attempts, finishing with 16 points on the day. Brandon Goss (St. Louis, Mo.) ended the game with 10 points and seven rebounds. Gideon finished a point and two rebounds short of a double-double with nine points and eight boards in the win.
North Greenville saw four scorers hit 10 or more points, two of which came off of the bench. Jimmy Ellis led all Crusaders with 17 points off of the bench going 5-for-9, all from three-point range, and added a pair of made free throws. Zack Shields followed with 16 points in reserve with all four made field goals coming from behind the arc.
King will play next against the Mount Olive Crusaders in the Student Center Complex (Bristol, Tenn.) on Saturday, Jan. 7 as part of a basketball doubleheader on Community Night. The Lady Tornado will kick off action at 2:00 p.m. ET with the men following at 4:00 p.m. ET, tentatively.