It was Senior Night at Red Bank Thursday night, so there were plenty of hugs and smiles for everyone present at Susan Ingram Thurman Gymnasium to support the host Lady Lions and Lions.
Five boys and two girls were honored between games, but there was also a couple of key games with Brainerd that Red Bank won both handily.
The Red Bank girls were never challenged as they improved to 24-5 with a 92-34 victory. The Red Bank boys improved to 19-9 overall with a 79-52 victory over the Panthers.
Both teams are now finished with regular-season games and turn their attention to the District 6-AA tournament next week.
RED BANK BOYS 79, BRAINERD 52: These two teams have played some great games against each other in the past where the outcome wasn’t decided until the final minute.
That wasn’t the case this time as Red Bank built a 37-27 halftime lead before putting things away with a 23-8 advantage in the third quarter.
It was sloppy on both sides with lots of fouls and more than enough turnovers. Red Bank did a better job of handling that adversity than did Brainerd.
“I enjoyed that,” said Red Bank coach Nick Fike shortly after the final horn had sounded.
“We have to clean up some of those turnovers, but defensively, we came to play. I’m thrilled with the way we played. I’ve been saying all year that if we play like we’re capable, we can compete with the best. We knew there would be a lot of emotion with all the senior night stuff, but our goal was to just play 32 good minutes of basketball.
“I like this group of kids. I’ve believed in them from the beginning. Now they are starting to believe in themselves,” Fike added.
Brainerd coach Levar Brown was totally beside himself during the second half and especially at the end. He really didn’t want to make a public comment, but eventually did so.
“That’s the worst I’ve ever seen and I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years,” the veteran coach said, obviously referring to the officiating where his players were whistled for a couple of technical along the way.
“We’re just glad we could finish the game. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said before heading to the Brainerd dressing room.
The Panthers had leads of 5-4 and 12-11 in the opening stanza and were within a point at 17-16 following back-to-back buckets from LaDerron Freeman and Jonte Williams with 1:27 to go in the first quarter.
Red Bank then scored the last four points for a 21-16 lead at the first break.
Kelvin Halfacre Jr. scored the first eight points of the second quarter for the Panthers, including back-to-back 3s midway through to knot the score at 24, but Red Bank responded by scoring 10 straight points and 13 of the next 16 for a comfortable 37-27 lead at intermission.
Things went from bad to worse for Brainerd in the third quarter as the Lions used a 17-4 run in the first five minutes to stretch that 10-point lead to 54-31 following a putback by Lucas Brown with 2:43 to play.
Brainerd managed four points in the final 2:29 and were down by 60-35 with eight minutes to play.
The Panthers got to within 20 three times in the final quarter, the last time at 70-50 following two free throws by Williams, but the Lions finished the game by scoring nine of the final 11 points with subs getting a chance to play.
Brown, Brandon Jones and Lekerrick Ellison were three of the Red Bank seniors honored and they responded by scoring 20, 16 and 14 points, respectively. Kell Eddins was also in double figures for the Lions with a dozen.
The other two seniors included DeAngelo Ross and Shawn Long.
Halfacre had 16 points to lead Brainerd while Freeman followed with 11.
Red Bank also had an unofficial 44-25 advantage on the boards. Ellison snagged 12 while Brown claimed nine and Cam Bell eight. Williams and Freeman both had seven for the Panthers.
Red Bank improves to 19-9 while Brainerd is now 16-8.
RED BANK GIRLS 92, BRAINERD 34: Bailey Lee has had some memorable games in her career at Red Bank and Thursday’s performance has to rank at or near the top.
She finished with 37 points, including 21 in the first half when the Lady Lions built a commanding 54-18 lead.
Arteya Scott was next with 16 points while Raijeria Bell and Savannah Washington followed with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Shannon Ledford, the only other senior on the Lady Lion roster, finished with eight points before being replaced late in the game.
Tyliyah Ward was tops for Brainerd with 18 points. Iceland Bradley finished with eight.
BRAINERD 8 10 11 5 -- 34
RED BANK 27 27 17 21 -- 92
BRAINERD (34) – Bradley 8, Ward 18, Wright 5, Watson 1, Robinson, Belcher 1, Bell 2, Coates, Williams.
RED BANK (92) – Washington 11, Loher 2, Crafton, Heathington, Scott 16, Ledford 8, Bell 13, Lee 37, Ware 5.
3-POINT GOALS: Brainerd 4 (Bradley 2, Ward, Wright); Red Bank 6 (Washington, Ledford 2, Lee 2, Ware).
BRAINERD 16 11 8 17 -- 52
RED BANK 21 16 23 19 -- 79
BRAINERD (52) – Lewis 4, Wheeler, Halfacre 16, Williams 6, Crawford, Thomas, Evans 5, Jackson 4, Bates 3, Hubbard 3, Broadnax, Freeman 11, Saddler.
RED BANK (79) – Ross 2, Long 3, Brown 20, Eddins 12, Trimble 4, Jones 16, Bell, Ellison 14, Swanson 5, Strickland 2, Young, Crutcher.
3-POINT GOALS: Brainerd 3 (Halfacre 2, Freeman); Red Bank 4 (Brown 2, Eddins, Swanson).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)