Hough boys basketball coach Jason Grube had just one thought with less than 40 seconds left in the Huskies’ game against Lake Norman.
“I was like, ‘Oh boy, we’ve gotta keep this from become a one-possession game,’ ” Grube said.
Hough managed to do just that against the Wildcats, getting key plays down the stretch to hold off preseason Sweet 16 No. 1 Lake Norman 55-50 on Thursday night.
In a game that featured two of the region’s top college prospects, it was North Carolina commit Luke Maye who had the bigger game, putting up 21 points, 16 rebounds and three assists for the fifth-ranked Huskies (2-0).
However, it was the Wildcats – led by Davidson signee Kishawn Pritchett’s 16 points – who made things interesting at the end, cutting a 13-point Hough lead down to four points, with chances to pull even closer.
The Huskies went up 47-34 on Qon Murphy’s jumper with 7:29 left. But Pritchett, Trey Ford (13 points) and David Scott (12 points) all hit 3-pointers during a 16-7 run, with Scott’s second 3 cutting Hough’s lead to 54-50 with 39 seconds remaining.
The Huskies twice had chances to convert 1-and-1s, but it took a Wildcats turnover and a key rebound-and-foul on reserve Ethan Post off a long Pritchett 3-point miss with seven seconds left to give Hough breathing room.
Post hit a free throw to make it a two-possession game, and Pritchett turned the ball over on Lake Norman’s next possession, sealing the Huskies’ win.
“We were on the verge of blowing it out, but (Lake Norman) did a great job of making some shots and keeping it close,” Grube said. “But we showed some resilience, and did a nice job of getting the stops at the end.”
It was not a spectacular start for the Wildcats (0-1), who advanced to last year’s 4A state finals behind back-to-back last-second victories in the 4A Western Regional tournament.
“We got exactly what we deserved,” Lake Norman coach Brandon Jolly said. “We were terrible the whole game. I told them exactly what was going to happen, and that’s what happened.
“We weren’t very good in practice all week, and they beat us in every facet of the game. Hopefully, we get rid of the prima donna attitude, because we’re not as good as everybody thinks we are.”