The legacy continues in Hawthorne.
C.J. Ingram, the son of Hornets’ great Cornelius Ingram, scored a game-high 20 points as Hawthorne held on for a 49-46 win against Williston in the Class 1A-Region 4 semifinal in front of a standing room only crowd in the Hornets’ nest.
The freshman iced the game with two free throws with 3.1 seconds left.
Williston’s desperation half-court shot by sophomore Kyler Lamb (seven points) went in, but it came a second too late and Hawthorne (10-4) survived and advanced.
“That’s a great team,” said Hawthorne coach Greg Bowie. “(Class) 1A doesn’t get the respect that we deserve. There’s some pretty good basketball in 1A in our area. If they had probably another half a second, the outcome could have been different.”
Williston had a chance to win the game prior to Ingram’s last two free throws.
With 17.9 seconds to play and Hawthorne leading 47-46, Ingram went to the free throw line for a one-and-one. However, the Hornets were called for a lane violation.
After the turnover, the Red Devils had an open look in the right corner but on the pass Hawthorne’s Devin Ray took a charge to prevent a potential game-winning shot.
“The biggest play of the game, probably, was the charge at the end because if that wasn’t a charge then that’s probably a wide open shot,” Bowie noted.
Ingram started slow with six first-half points, but he hit a shot with 3.4 seconds to play in the half to highlight an 8-0 run after the Hornets trailed 25-16 with 4:05 to play in the second quarter.
“We could have played way better in the first half,” Ingram noted. “We watched film and prepared all week in practice. That’s a really good young team. We just knew we had to come up with the dub.”
Junior DJ Slater (10 points), hit two 3s in the first half, including a key 3-pointer in the second quarter and a bucket to bring the Hornets within three at 25-22.
“Not just those threes, but Slater did a good job playing defense on No. 10 (8th-grader JT Tipton),” Bowie said. “Just watching him on film, he’s got one of the quickest releases that I’ve seen, and I think DJ did a pretty good job on him. He contained him pretty well.”
Down 25-24 at the half, Hawthorne went on a 12-3 run in the third quarter thanks to Ingram.
A slam dunk ignited the crowd, and then a 3-pointer gave Hawthorne a 33-28 lead with 4:48 to play in the third quarter. Ingram scored nine points in the quarter.
“Ever since the Newberry game, everybody’s been down my neck about me dunking,” said Ingram, who also hit two free throws to give Hawthorne its biggest lead at 38-28 with 3:28 to play in the third quarter.
Williston, which only has two seniors, finished the season at 16-11.
“I’m very proud of my basketball team and my program,” said coach Jim Ervin, who noted his team had too many turnovers to win the game. “It’s a tough loss to play as hard as we did. We didn’t play very well, but we played awful hard with a lot of effort and we can build a lot out of a basketball team by doing that.”
Junior Wesley Edariyon led the Red Devils with 13 points off the bench, while Tipton was held to eight points.
Hawthorne will host Trenton in Tuesday’s region final with a trip to Lakeland and a final four berth on the line. Trenton eliminated Newberry, 45-35, in the other regional semifinal.
“Man, it’s going to be tough,” Bowie said. “I know they can shoot it well. They’ve got some really good guards. Hopefully, the fact that we’re playing at home will have a lot to do with it, but it’s going to be a barn burner.”
Class 4A-Region 1
No. 4 Santa Fe (Alachua) 66, No. 5 Gadsden County (Havana) 41
Class 3A-Region 1
No. 3 Windermere Prep 73, No. 6 P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) 57
Class 1A-Region 3
No. 1 Bradford (Starke) 59, No. 4 Bell 30
Class 1A-Region 3
No. 2 Madison County 76, No. 3 Dixie County (Cross City) 39
Class 1A-Region 4
No. 1 Hawthorne 49, No. 4 Williston 46
Class 1A-Region 4