Keondre Byers was anything but a role player over the last 25 seconds of Berry Academys 73-71 home win against West Charlotte High on Wednesday.
Byers, a backup forward, drained the go-ahead 3-pointer, swiped a key steal and hit a free throw during that span, justifying Cardinals (5-1) coach Maurice Jones faith in the juniors potential to be a difference-maker.
He told me to be ready last night, said Byers, who scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. That was the only thing I was thinking about, beside my (class) work, and then I had my moment.
Berrys bench had its share of moments, with 34 points, including a game-high 16 from Quendon Cottman, in addition to Byers output. The Cardinals took a 56-49 advantage into the fourth quarter, but had to hold off West Charlotte through two ties and three lead changes.
The Lions went ahead 69-68 on Austin Harris basket with two minutes left, but Berrys Chandler Murray made a free throw to tie the score before Byers 3-pointer from the right corner put the Cardinals in front for keeps.
I rode him since the first day of tryouts to the point where he started not to like me, Jones said. I just told him the reason why I did that was because that was the type of potential I saw in him and thats what I expect out of him.
West Charlotte (3-2) had a chance to force overtime or win after a Berry turnover with 1.9 seconds left, but the Lions missed a 3-pointer.
Michael Boone led West Charlotte with 16 points, including seven in the fourth, followed by Austin Harris 14. The Lions bench was productive as well, with Isiah Blackmon and Jadarius McCullough adding 12 each.
The first half was just as taut, with four ties and three lead changes before West Charlotte took a 40-39 edge to the locker room. Boone sparked the Lions with nine points and Powell led Berry with 11.
Ultimately, the Cardinals came up with the big plays at key moments.
It kind of gets the monkey off these guys backs, Jones said. West Charlotte is West Charlotte, whether they have Kennedy Meeks or whoever. Us being a newer Westside team, beating West Charlotte, it says a lot.
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