MOORE — When Brayden Powell left Southmoore to attend school at Moore last year, it was not on the friendliest of circumstances. So whenever the two schools hook up, no one wants to win more than him.
Powell showed how much it means to him as he helped lead the Lions to a 65-59 victory over the SaberCats in Friday’s semifinals of the John Nobles Classic.
“It was great,” Powell said. “Especially because we’ve wanted this as a team for a long time. The guys wanted to do it for me because I came from there. We wanted to show I’m family, too.”
The Lions lost to Southmoore earlier in the season. But coach Aaron Howell said before the game he had a talk with his players that may have set the tone for the evening.
“I think everybody is on the same page now,” Howell said. “We had ourselves a little come-to-Jesus, and we basically said if you’re going to be here, be here. If you want to get gone, get gone.”
With 2:46 left in the game, Jaylon Wilson put the Lions up 54-49 with a pair of free throws. However, Justin Bean answered for the SaberCats with a 3-point play to cut lead to two.
Dante Butler gave Moore a 56-52 advantage with two more free throws. Bean missed a 3-pointer, and Powell finished a fastbreak with a thundering two-hand dunk and was fouled. The ensuing free throw put Moore up five.
Moore’s Justin Beam added two more from the foul line on the next possession.
The game seemed to be over, but Southmoore quickly cut the lead to 61-59. Wilson hit 1-of-2 from the line and the Lions led by three with 45 seconds left. The SaberCats missed a shot and fouled Moore’s Zeke Guy on the other end. He hit both free throws to put the contest away.