Reed's block at the buzzer seals Hayti boys basketball's Bloomfield Christmas Tournament Championship win over Twin Rivers
BLOOMFIELD — The third time was the charm for Hayti.
In its first appearance in the finals since 2003, sixth-seeded Twin Rivers gave Hayti a battle and then some, but Hayti junior Damori Reed blocked a shot off the glass at the buzzer to clinch a 43-41 win in the Bloomfield Christmas Tournament over Twin Rivers after two straight years of earning runner-up finishes. The championship was top-seeded Hayti’s first since 2007.
“It’s great that we’ve got a good team and we play as a team. We work hard. We just came out and did what we had to do,” Reed said. “(On the last play), I’m like, ‘I’ve got to do this for the team.’ He couldn’t get that easy bucket.”
Buckets were anything but easy for either team in a grind-it-out game in which neither team scored more than 10 points in the third or fourth quarters.
With two minutes left in the fourth, Zach Hargraves tied the game at 41 with a floater in the lane after hanging in mid-air to knock it down. Jarrod Covinton answered and gave Hayti a two-point lead with two minutes left when he banked home a fadeaway jumper from the free-throw line.
Reed finished with six points in the game, but his game-clinching block brought home the championship. Hayti coach Aaron Bidwell was ecstatic, hugging Reed as the team lined up to receive its trophy.
“We have a good relationship,” Bidwell said. “He’s a kid that’s really worked hard and came through at the very end, but we were really proud of him and our kids for how they guarded.”
Thomas tried to answer but left a jumper short after spinning away from his defender.
For Hayti (8-2), getting over the hump after coming up just short two years in a row was a great feeling for the coaches and players.
“We talked about it. Sometimes, it turns into a mental thing, you know, you just have to put trust and faith in your kids that it’s not anything you’re doing, but it’s about their character,” Bidewell said.
Twin Rivers (9-3) had its chances to force overtime, but whether shots just rimmed out or Hayti made crucial stops, it didn’t go the Royals’ way.
Shots were falling early for Twin Rivers as it was handling the half-court pressure Hayti deals its opponents, and it allowed the Royals to jump out to an early lead and get ahead by as many as seven. The largest lead for either team belonged to Hayti at eight points.
Parker Watson made some timely 3s early on, knocking down three through the first 16 minutes and four total.
“It was just the flow of the game. We got some baskets to go in,” Twin Rivers coach Seth McBroom said. “Their defensive pressure was bothering us a little bit and we were forcing some bad shots in the first half. We kind of rushed some shots and didn’t run our stuff.”
That run eventually reached 20-7 as the Indians recovered to take a six-point lead into the locker room. Chrivonte Moore heated up quickly late in the second quarter, hitting two 3s and a mid-range jumper to score eight straight points for Hayti.
Hayden Thomas brought Twin Rivers back within four points after grabbing an offensive rebound and nailing a fadeaway jumper with under a minute remaining, but Ivory Winters scored on a putback at the basket with around 10 seconds left to put the lead at six points.
Throughout the first half, Hayti had players taking turns shouldering the load. Tyliek Moore sparked the 10-0 run when he buried a trey on the wing. Prior to that, he nailed a long 3-pointer and hung in the air for a layup, scoring eight of nine points for Hayti in the sequence.
Both squads battled in the third quarter, trading baskets throughout the frame. Allen Hendrix started the scoring in the second half with a with two nice layups, including a spin by his defender for a finish at the rim to cut the Hayti lead to four points.
“We finally slowed down and shared the ball a little bit more and were a little more patient and finally started seeing some spots,” McBroom said.
Thomas stepped up near the end of the third to bring the Royals within two points, scoring on another fadeaway jumper and an elbow jumper. Tanner Ledbetter scored a layup to end the third and pull the Royals within two points.
Ultimately, Hayti came through with needed baskets and stops in the clutch to earn the win and bring home the championship trophy.
Ivory Winters led Hayti with 12 points, and Watson matched his game-high with 12 for Twin Rivers.
“Credit their defense. Coach Bidwell, obviously one of my closest friends, and I’ve known him for a long time, but I’m really proud of him. Their guys guarded really well tonight,” McBroom said.
TWIN RIVERS (9-3) — Hargraves 1(0) 2-2 4. Thomas 4(1) 0-0 9. Watson 4(4) 0-0 12. Lorah 1(0) 0-0 2. Ledbetter 1(0) 0-0 2. Hendrix 4(0) 0-0 8. Mittlestadt 1(0) 2-2 4. Totals: 16(5) 4-4 41.
HAYTI (8-2) — Winters 5(0) 2-4 12. Covinton 2(0) 0-0 4. Moore 3(2) 0-0 8. Reed 3(0) 0-0 6. Moore 4(3) 0-0 11. Jammerson 1(0) 0-0 2. Totals: 18(5) 2-6 43.