Senior night was the only celebration that Lift for Life Academy saw Wednesday night.
The first senior night for the Hawks in their newly-constructed gym would not be one of their fondest high school memories.
Coach Terrence Hobson was visibly upset at the conclusion of the game with the effort the Southside Hawks exhibited on Thursday.
“We have to shoot the ball better than that to win games” Hobson told The SouthSider.
Both teams entered the match up with similar records, Lift for life being 15-7 and Hancock with a record of 12-5. Their comparable records mirrored how play took shape early on.
Defense was the key factor of the game for the 1st half. Hancock senior Siah Moultrie and Lift for Life senior forward Anthony Kent were swatting anything in their airspace. Moultrie ending the game with 8 blocks and 12 rebounds and Kent with 4 blocks and 8 rebounds.
Either team struggled to find any rhythm early on, leading to narrow lead changes in the first 16 minutes of play.
Hancock walked into half only up by a basket over the Hawks, going into the locker room 30-32.
The Tigers roared out of the gate with a 7-0 run to open the second half. It was a 9-1 run before Hobson called a time out to regroup.
“They were getting some easy buckets in transition. Our defensive balance wasn’t right at times,” said Hobson.
Those easy baskets in the first would come back to haunt the Hawks. The Hawks were able to cauterize the bleeding but couldn’t shift the momentum enough to close the gap that Hancock had built.
“If we don’t block out and play defensive we aren’t going to beat anybody,” said Hobson. “The easy buckets hurt.”
Hancock pulled to an early lead, running the game at their pace. Lift for Life tried to respond, but shots seem forced, missing opportunities and not sinking easy baskets.
Hawks Sophomore forward Rico Singleton led the team with 18 points and 5 boards. Anthony Kent followed with 11 points.
Junior Sam Richardson of the Tigers threw down a game-leading 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Rico Sutton put the exclamation mark on the night with a pair of authoritative dunks, ending with 11 points.
Coach Hobson had a message for his Hawks, “It’s district time. We have to play with more heart.”