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The Hyde Park boys basketball team lived by the old adage “it’s not how you start, but how you finish” on Saturday night. The Thunderbirds (5-1) were able to shake off a rusty start to defeat Providence-St. Mel 59-57 in the Jimmy Sanders Hall of Fame Shootout at Collins Academy.
Senior Moshawn Thomas cleaned up a miss at the rim with a put back basket with just two seconds remaining for the game-winner.
“I saw my player make the ball go up and saw it coming off the rim so I just went after it,” Thomas said of the game-winner. “This was a good game; we played hard and stayed focused.”
Thomas finished with a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds.
St. Mel (4-1) jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the first frame, but was unable to sustain the early momentum.
“Very, very tough to swallow,” Knights coach Tim Ervin said of the loss. “We gave up too many key offensive rebounds and made too many turnovers down the stretch.”
Hyde Park also made the Knights pay in the final minutes of each quarter. The Thunderbirds used a 6-1 spurt over the final 3:33 of the first quarter to claw back in the game, and used a 7-2 burst over the final 2:31 of the first half to close within 26-24 at the break. Then, in the fourth, after trailing 54-51 with 2:24 to play, the Thunderbirds finished the game on an 8-3 run.
Hyde Park also made a more assertive effort to get the ball in the paint in the second half.
Big men Jacob Taylor and Thomas accounted for 25 of the Thunderbirds 35 second half points.
“I had to tell my team to get the big fellas involved,” Hyde Park coach Antoine Samuels said. “We have good guards, but they have to realize the game is played inside-outside.
“If we don’t get the ball inside we do not win this game.”
Khalil Small (15) and Tevin King (14) combined for 29 points for the Knights. Donald Morgan added 13.