Freshman Lifts SHS
Kier Hits Game-Winner
Posted: March 6, 2013
RICHMOND — Justin Kier grew up a little bit more on Tuesday.
Getting a critical spark from Kier on the defensive end in its previous outing, Spotswood High School got an offensive boost from its freshman substitute at the most crucial times in the state semifinals.
“He has been hungry to learn and prepare for this moment,” SHS coach Chad Edwards said of the team’s “little brother.”
With 17 seconds left, Kier took a pass from Khalil Davis in the corner and drove fearlessly to the basket along the baseline, scoring the game-winning basket in a 70-69 victory over Bruton at the Siegel Center to catapult Spotswood into the Division 3 state championship game.
The Trailblazers (28-1), who are 20 years removed from their last state title, will play Brunswick at the Siegel Center on Saturday.
“Words don’t describe it,” said SHS senior Austin Nicely, who defended Marcus Carter on Bruton’s final shot just before time expired. “For a little bit, I wasn’t sure if my career was going to be ended today or not. And, you know, I believed.
“…To come through with the win together and everything’s so special, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Known for big fourth quarters and strong free-throw shooting, the Blazers needed both to get past the Panthers (20-7).
Bruton bolted to a 13-0 lead on a fast-break dunk by Carter just 4 minutes and 10 seconds into the game, as the Panthers also showed off their athleticism on defense with five takeaways. SHS committed 10 turnovers in the period.
Senior swingman Hyrum Weiler almost single-handedly kept Spotswood afloat, scoring its first three field goals and finishing the first half with 10 points. The Blazers shot just 2-for-11 in the first quarter and 8-for-25 in the opening half.
“I’m very proud of our composure,” Edwards said. “I thought we had a couple chances there to lose our cool and doubt the outcome of the game.”
Bruton led throughout the game until Kier made his second of two free throws with 1:29 left. Junior point guard Tucker McCoy sparked Spotswood’s fourth-quarter surge with nine points in the period, as the Blazers went on a 15-4 run. Kier, who played 16 minutes, capped the run with a game-tying layup on a one-on-one drive with 2:08 to go.
“He makes a lot of plays,” McCoy said of Kier. “He does a lot for his teammates. He creates for others. He creates for himself. It’s very exciting to play with him for another year.”
McCoy led SHS with 22 points, fouling out of the game while trying to take a charge with 1:59 left. Weiler added 16 and Nicely had eight. But it was Kier’s seven points that were felt the most.
“Justin is going to be a special player. I think we all know that,” Edwards said of Kier, who played a majority of the season on the SHS junior varsity team. “Just what makes me proud is for a freshman to exude that kind of confidence…with the game on the line.”
Junior swingman Kapri Doucet led five Panthers in double figures with 16 points. Lonnie Swinton added 14 and Carter had 12. Chad Simmons, Bruton’s only starting senior, finished with 11.
“We got a little flustered with the trap, but all in all I still felt confident going down the stretch,” said Bruton coach Joe Dillard, whose starters played 80 percent of the team’s minutes. “A couple things one way or another, we’re talking about something different.”
The aggressive Panthers, who went 22-for-24 at the foul line, were limited to just one field goal in the fourth quarter on seven attempts.
“It was a battle all day,” Nicely said. “Credit to them. From the opening tip, they just made it really physical. I think it took us maybe a little bit to adjust to it. They weren’t calling [fouls], letting a lot of stuff go. I’d rather it be that way.”
Nicely blanketed Carter by design on the final play, Edwards said, forcing the 6-foot-2 guard away from the block before putting a hand in his face.
“That felt like the longest second of basketball, watching that [shot] go up,” Nicely said.
When Carter’s shot from just inside the arc near the corner missed the mark, the rebound went Spotswood’s way, too, sealing the win. Nicely raised both arms victoriously with an expression of relief on his face, slowly making his way to the team celebration at half-court.
Earlier in the day, Spotswood’s girls’ team also advanced to the state championship game.
“Special,” Edwards said of both SHS basketball teams reaching the state final. “…Saturday is going to be a great day for Spotswood.”
Swinton 4-8 4-5 14, Simmons 3-5 4-4 11, Carter 3-7 5-6 12, Wallace 4-9 2-2 10, Doucet 5-16 5-5 16, Wade 0-0 0-0 0, Ellis 0-1 0-0 0, Rice 0-2 2-2 2, Sangalang 2-4 0-0 4. Totals: 21-52 22-24 69.
McCoy 8-20 3-4 22, Davis 1-1 3-4 6, Nicely 3-7 2-2 8, Garber 1-3 3-4 5, Weiler 6-8 3-6 16, Lokey 0-0 0-0 0, Lasam 2-8 0-0 6, Blandon 0-0 0-0 0, Kier 2-2 3-4 7, Hinkle 0-1 0-0 0, Detamore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-50 17-24 70.
Bruton 18 16 19 16 – 69
Spotswood 7 20 19 24 – 70
3-Point Goals—Bruton 5-14 (Swinton 2-6, Simmons 1-1, Carter 1-3, Doucet 1-3, Rice 0-1); SHS 7-25 (McCoy 3-13, Davis 1-1, Garber 0-1, Weiler 1-1, Lasam 2-8, Hinkle 0-1). Rebounds—Bruton 29 (Wallace 9), SHS 32 (Weiler 8). Turnovers—Bruton 17; SHS 17. Fouled Out—Bruton (Doucet), SHS (McCoy). Total Fouls—Bruton 21; SHS 21.