Huntingdon falls but battles top-seeded Covenant to final seconds

James Harris finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in Tuesday night's 67-66 loss to Covenant in the USA South Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Covenant Sports Information Department)
James Harris finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in Tuesday night's 67-66 loss to Covenant in the USA South Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Covenant Sports Information Department)

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. – The Huntingdon men's basketball team battled the No. 1 seed in the West Division to the final seconds on Tuesday night but fell to Covenant 67-66 in the first round of the USA South Athletic Conference Tournament.

In their first appearance in the conference tournament since 2014, the fourth-seeded Hawks had a chance at the buzzer but couldn't get a shot to fall.

After Covenant took its largest lead of the game, 67-64, with 1:02 to play, Huntingdon answered with a layup by sophomore James Harris to make it a one-point game with 36 seconds remaining.

In the final 11 seconds, freshman Mykel Woods blocked a Covenant shot, the Hawks grabbed the rebound and raced the length of the court. Huntingdon took a contested shot, battled for the rebound and tried to tip the ball in but Covenant came up with the ball to end the game.

This was the third meeting of the season with Covenant (18-8) and the second to be decided by one point. The Scots escaped Roland Arena with a 73-72 win on Feb. 1. Covenant won the first meeting of the season 84-78.

Despite the disappointing ending, the Hawks (13-13) finished the season with 13 wins and won 11 of their final 19 games. The 13 wins are the most for the Hawks since the 2008-09 season. Huntingdon's 24 wins during head coach Caleb Kimbrough's first two full seasons mark the best back-to-back seasons for the Hawks since the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

Tuesday's game was close from the start. In a game that saw 13 lead changes and was tied 11 times, neither team led by more than six points. Huntingdon built a six-point lead, 16-10, in the first six minutes of the game on a basket by junior Charvez' Hobson.

Huntingdon carried a 36-35 lead into halftime and did not trail in the second half until a Covenant basket with 3:34 to play. A 3-pointer by senior Scotty Chadwick gave the Hawks their last lead, 64-63, with 2:20 remaining. Covenant took a 65-64 lead with 1:52 to play.

Senior Isaiah King led Huntingdon with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists. Harris added 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists and freshman B.J. Barker finished with seven points. Hobson had five rebounds and Woods had two blocks and three steals.

Covenant will host the conference semifinals and championship game on Friday and Saturday. Maryville will play Averett in the first semifinal and Covenant will play Methodist in the second semifinal. The championship game is scheduled for 2 p.m. (Central) on Saturday.  

                                                    

Records: Huntingdon (13-13); Covenant (18-8)