OXFORD- The Pontotoc Warriors grabbed control in the second half on their way to a 74-60 victory over Cleveland Central at the Oxford Charger Challenge last Tuesday.
Pontotoc (4-4) led 19-15 at the end of the first quarter. Cleveland Central's Jarkevious Johnson Jr. knocked down a 3-pointer early in the second quarter to cut the deficit to one, but Austin Nickson got open for a layup to answer for the Warriors. PHS continued to hold a slim lead throughout the quarter with a free throw from Manoj Nickson, a drive and floater from Jaylen Edwards, and a bucket from Gavin Brinker that put the Warriors up a 26-23. However, the Wolves scored the next seven points. Keshaun Lindsey scored on a putback, Johnson hit a three, and Jamal Anderson had a fast break dunk, allowing Cleveland Central to take a 30-28 advantage into halftime.
Rock Robinson dished to Joe Haze Austin, who buried a three to put Pontotoc up 31-30 early in the third quarter. Keveon Jones scored to briefly regain the lead for Cleveland Central, but Austin Nickson muscled his way inside for a basket for the Warriors. Robinson then connected on a shot from downtown to make it 36-32. The Wolves rattled off six straight points to go back up 38-36 before Brinker got to the free throw line, knocking down one of two shots. Brinker then grabbed a steal, which led to a Robinson layup and a 39-38 Pontotoc lead. Caleb Hobson dropped in a tough shot in the lane, drawing a foul and hitting the ensuing free throw for an old-fashioned three, and Robinson drained a pull-up jump shot to make it 44-38 at the 3:26 mark.
After Johnson scored on a layup for Cleveland Central, Hobson made a play that ignited a flurry of Pontotoc scoring. The Warriors could not convert on a good look in the paint, but Hobson came up with a steal as the Wolves attempted to move the ball out of their end and finished at the rim, drawing a foul in the process. Hobson would make the subsequent free throw, and two straight baskets from Brinker put Pontotoc up double digits at 51-40. Austin grabbed a steal and emphatically slammed home a breakaway dunk to put the Warriors up by 13, and, after a Johnson layup for Cleveland Central, Brinker scored at the buzzer to make it 55-42.
A 3-point play from Cleveland Central's Lindsey made it a 10-point game to open the final quarter, but Manoj Nickson answered by drilling a 3-pointer on the next trip downcourt. Austin then found Robinson open for a layup to give Warriors a 15-point lead. PHS would hold at least a 12-point advantage the rest of the way, stretching the lead to as many as 18. Brinker led the Warriors with six points in the quarter, with Austin and Robinson also providing key baskets down the stretch. Austin Nickson knocked down a pair of free throws, and Hobson made a shot from the charity stripe as well.
Robinson led Pontotoc in scoring with 16 points. Austin and Brinker each finished with 15.