Things ran hot and cold in the fourth quarter in the boys' high school basketball game Tuesday night at Baylor. As Hamilton Heights' shooting heated up, the Red Raiders went ice cold.
The Hawks never trailed but didn't pull away until late on the way to a 62-41 victory.
Hamilton Heights led by eight going to the fourth quarter, which started with Baylor's Niko Simpkins making two free throws 23 seconds in. But the Hawks followed with a run of 17 consecutive points that ranged from Jordan Rawls' deep 3-pointer from right of the key to Wheza Panzo's tip.
"I think we just probably got a little comfortable and had a good feel for everything," Hamilton Heights coach Zach Ferrell said of the late surge. "We really try to keep our kids confident, even when shots are not going in at first. And we did a good job on the offensive glass."
A height advatage helped there and also helped defensively. After Simpkins made a layup off an interior pass from a rebounding Beyuan Hendricks at 2:14 of the third quarter, the Red Raiders did not make another field goal until Boris Ristonavic returned to the court with four fouls and made a 3-point shot from the left wing with 2:10 to play.
"We tried to really use our length in our zone," Ferrell said. "They're so good at running their stuff offensively against a man(-to-man). They're very hard to defend in a man. We thought that was our best opportunity."
Baylor had trouble making some shots in close in the first half, but with five of their first six baskets being 3-pointers the Red Raiders were able to battle back from down 13-3 to get it tied at 18. They never led, but converting some of those early misses may have changed things.
"That can get your confidence going," Baylor coach Austin Clark said. "Everybody's offense looks better when it's going in. As a coach you look at what kind of shots you're taking. For the most part we took solid shots. There were a couple of times we took some bad ones, and that led to some (fast)breaks.
"I thought we played really hard. We didn't execute it well, but still not bad for the first game of the year against a quality team like Hamilton Heights. We've got some things to work on."
Hendricks scored 18 points and Simpkins added 12 for Baylor, which was without 6-foot-6 senior Patrick Urey, a starter since his freshman year who broke his left, non-shooting hand in practice. The Red Raiders hope to have him back by late December or early January.
Rawls and Kevaughn Ellis totaled 13 points apiece for the Hawks and Jason Jitoboh contributed 11. Hamilton Heights, which plays mostly a regional schedule throughout the southeastern U.S. and occasionally beyond that boundary, is now 7-2.
"Any time we get to play in Chattanooga, it's awesome," Ferrell said. "We feel especially blessed and priviledged to get to play here. I remember thinking when I got on the bus that we're not used to just driving across town."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.