End of first quarter: Kinston 19, Garner 9
Halftime: Kinston 36, Garner 29; KHS led by Denzel Keyes’ 16 points and six rebounds; Garner paced by Gavin Wilson’s 8 points
End of third quarter: Kinston 46, Garner 41
Final: Garner 69, Kinston 65
Following a breathtaking 69-65 victory over Kinston in the semifinals of the American Airlines bracket of the 40th annual HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational, Garner has the chance to win the tournament for the first time in school history.
The Trojans lost four players to fouls, but still found a way to defeat the Vikings in a matchup of teams who were part of the first Holiday Invitational in 1972. Garner last played for a Holiday Invitational in 1998 in a four-team edition of the tournament; the last time the Trojans played for a title in an eight-team Holiday Invitational was in 1983. Garner has never won an HSOT in 17 appearances.
“It was a heck of a ballgame and I’m proud of the fact that we didn’t quit,” Garner coach Eddie Gray. “These guys found a way to win. … We’re happy to be in the position we’re in.”
The difference was Kinston’s leading scorer, junior guard Josh Dawson, fouling out with 6:52 remaining in the game. When he left the game with his fifth foul, Kinston led 60-56; the Trojans outscored the Vikings 13-5 the rest of the way.
“He makes them go,” Gray said of Dawson. “He’s a heck of an athlete.”
Garner, which faces Bronx (N.Y.) St. Raymond at 7:20 p.m. Friday for the American Airlines bracket title, placed four players in double digit scoring, led by Dominique Reed with 15 points. Gavin Wilson had 13 points, while DeMarcus Sandford and freshman Julius Barnes — who hit all three 3-pointers he attempted in the second half — finished with 11 points.
Kinston was led by junior forward Denzel Keyes’ 24 points and 14 rebounds. The Vikings will face Raleigh Millbrook in the American Airlines third-place game at 4 p.m. Friday.
“Tonight was a scrappy ballgame,” Kinston coach Wells Gulledge said. “We had the momentum early … but we got in foul trouble. Anytime you add a big crowd to teenagers, you never really know what you’re going to get.”
AMERICAN AIRLINES SEMIFINAL
GARNER 69, KINSTON 65
Kinston 19 17 10 19 — 65
Garner 9 20 12 28 — 69
Kinston: Denzel Keyes 24, Josh Dawson 11, C.J. Bradshaw 9, Brandon Ingram 9, Angelo Keyes 7, Andrew Lopez 3, Chris Hall 2. Garner: Dominique Reed 15, Gavin Wilson 13, Julius Barnes 11, DeMarcus Sandford 11, Cameron Redd 7, Dashawn Stabler 5, Josh McClain 4, Larry Richardson 3.