Drew McBrayer could not remember the last time his New Hope boys basketball team was on the wrong end of a 15-0 run.
“It’s been a while,” McBrayer said, but that’s exactly what happened during the first half Friday night, as Columbus turned a 25-16 deficit into a 31-25 second-quarter lead, holding the Trojans scoreless for 7 minutes, 18 seconds.
“This was very uncharacteristic, because we turned it over four or five trips in a row,” McBrayer said. “Two or three of them we were fast-breaking and just made a terrible pass.”
But with Caleb Parr scoring 14 of his 21 points during the second half and T.J. Warner coming off the bench to hit three 3-pointers after halftime, the Trojans scored 25 fourth-quarter points and rallied for a 67-58 win at Columbus High School.
“We just played our basketball,” McBrayer said. “We finally got into a really good rhythm. We came out really, really strong early on, and I think we got too emotional and just kind of let them back in the ball game when we had a chance to take care of things.”
Four players scored for Columbus during the run which bridged the first and second quarters. And the 15-0 burst could have been worse, but Columbus missed 5 of 6 free throws over the opening 2 minutes of the third quarter.
That the Falcons put together that kind of effort came as no surprise to McBrayer.
“They’re going to fight their tails off,” he said of the Falcons. “This rivalry, as tough as they are, it’s going to be that kind of ball game.”
That stretch was the only instance of poor free throw shooting all night, as the Falcons shot 17 of 21 for the rest of the game while the Trojans were 17 of 20 for the night.
New Hope took the lead for good in the final seconds of the third quarter, when Parr tapped in a miss shot to give the visitors a 42-40 lead. The Trojans never got truly comfortable, but they did take control through the first half of the fourth quarter, and when they caught the Falcons napping for an easy breakaway layup from Issace Grady, New Hope had a 56-45 lead.
The closest the Falcons got after that was the final score, thanks to a Willie Young putback in the closing seconds. Young and J.J. Williams each scored 19 points to lead the Falcons.
New Hope broke out of the gates quickly, taking a 9-2 lead and holding a 7-point lead into the final minute of the quarter thanks largely to LJ Hackman, who scored 9 of his 13 points during the period. But Tre Dismuke — who scored 6 points during the first 8 minutes — followed the third five-second call on New Hope with a driving layup at the buzzer to pull Columbus within 15-11 going into the second quarter.
Parr scored on a drive and a 3-pointer as the Trojans pushed their lead to 25-16 before Columbus started its run. The Falcons took their first lead on an and-one by Williams after a steal set up a fast-break layup that drew a roar from the crowd.
The Trojans threw the ball away on their next two possessions, and the teams went into intermission with Columbus up 28-25.
“It’s going to be a war every time we play,” McBrayer said. “The kids know each other, they know their games, there’s no secrets out there, they’re just going to get after each other. It’s really enjoyable to coach, and it’s really fun to watch.”
The win kept New Hope undefeated in Class 5A, Region 1 at 4-0 with region games against West Point and Saltillo remaining. Columbus is 2-2, both losses against New Hope, and also has games left with the Green Wave and Tigers before each team finishes the regular season with two nonregion contests.