Christien Williams has earned trust and playing time from Charlotte Country Days coaches.
Williams, a sophomore guard, scored 13 points off the bench all after halftime to spark the Buccaneers in a 64-59 overtime win against Metrolina Christian at the BSN Sports Buccaneer Classic on Friday.
Country Day (4-6) will play Hickory Christian, a 76-74 winner against Grace Academy, in the title game Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The coaching staff and I tried to make a decision whether to keep him down from (junior varsity) or do we move him up to varsity, Bucs coach Dwayne Cherry said. But he had such a strong offseason, you could see the improvement in his game, so once I have a freshman or sophomore on varsity, Im going to play him.
Williams produced a boost for the Bucs in the second half, slicing through the Metrolina Christian defense to rally Country Day late. He nailed two baskets in the final minute to pull the Bucs within 53-50 and Alex Owen (12 points) connected on a 3-point shot with 1.9 seconds left to force overtime.
I wanted us to play hoping that it might get a little chaotic, they might miss a matchup and leave somebody open and thats what happened, Cherry said. Alex knocked down a big shot.
Williams sole basket in the extra session put Country Day in front for good at 58-56 and his assist to Stukie Philips (13 points) for a layup padded the advantage to 62-56 and the Bucs sailed to the finish.
Christian Williams had a big four minutes, Cherry said. He really responded tonight. He had a great game.
Hakeem Rowe paced Metrolina Christian with 22 points and Chandler Rivers added 13 for the Warriors. Jack Vaughn chipped in 10 for Country Day, which led 27-25 at halftime despite struggling on offense. The Bucs defense, however, tipped the balance in overtime, limiting Metrolina Christian to a basket and free throw over the first 3 minutes, 30 seconds of the extra period.
Hickory Christian (8-2) outlasted Grace Academy when Conner Smith hit a jumper with 18 seconds left. Grace Academy had a couple of chances to tie or win, but Smith stole a pass to stifle one possession and a last-second three-pointer missed.
The credit goes to (the players) and our coaching staff, Knights coach Gary Bowne said. Theyre the ones who suggested the changes and the kids played so hard and theyre willing to play together, and that speaks to the character of our young men.
The largest lead for either team was Hickorys Christians eight-point advantage in the fourth quarter, built in part on the Knights extending their perimeter defense to force Grace Academy into longer shots.
We got stops and kept making adjustments, Bowne said. In spite of some turnovers late, we were resilient.
Four Hickory Christian players scored double digits, led by Jordan Dillinghams 21 points and Jake Starnes 20. Grace Academy also produced four double-digit scorers, led by Juice Narusas with 19 points, followed by Justin Sellers 13.
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