BEAUFORT — The East Carteret boys basketball team had to scrap to get past a feisty Dixon squad Tuesday in a 61-56 triumph.
The Mariners (14-3 overall) won their 10th game in a row with the previous six coming by an average of 24.7 points. Their last win by single digits came on Jan. 7 in a 58-57 victory over the Bulldogs (16-5). Before that contest, they captured back-to-back 29-point wins.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk over them,” East coach Daniel Griffee said. “No. 24 (Everett Lewis) and No. 5 (Logan Hubbard) are good shooters. That was the difference, their shooting. But they stopped hitting them eventually.”
East moved to 10-1 in the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference to keep pace with Pender (14-6 overall) at 10-1 in the race to share the league title.
“That was a tough one but a good one,” Griffee said. “We needed that one. We can’t afford to give one up here late.”
East and Pender each have three conference regular season games remaining.
Dixon has proven to be the third-best team in the league with an 8-3 mark. The Bulldogs entered the game having won five straight games, with four of those five decided by six points or less. They led by four points midway through the second quarter thanks largely to hitting seven three-pointers in the first 12 minutes of the contest.
“We are playing the only way we can play to be successful, shooting the threes, playing tough defense,” Dixon coach Bernie Poole said. “That is the way we have to play.”
The Holly Ridge outfit has taken 412 three-pointers this season. By comparison, the Mariners have attempted less than 300.
After a torrid start, however, the iron became unkind to the visitors as they hit just four treys in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Facing a 27-23 deficit at the halfway point of the second quarter, East ended the frame on a 12-0 with Caleb Hymon scoring five in his first action back after spraining his ankle Jan. 21. He had missed the three previous games. Hymon is second on the team with 14.5 points per game.
“Caleb was big late in the second,” Griffee said. “That was a big run in the second quarter and a huge run in the third quarter. That was the difference in the game.”
Henry Tillett opened the third quarter with the Mariners’ third three-pointer of the game, followed by buckets from Bennie Brooks and Perry Austin to help the team begin the second half on a 6-0 run and take a commanding 42-27 lead.
Brooks led the way for East with 29 points, hitting the 20-point mark for the fifth game in a row and the 13th time this season. He’s averaging 24 points per game this season.
“We didn’t shoot well tonight, but we did enough, and Bennie played big,” Griffee said.
Austin finished with 11 points, followed by Jacob Nelson with six.
East led 56-42 with 5:48 to go in the game when the Bulldogs began to chip away in a comeback effort. Logan Hubbard hit his second three-pointer of the fourth quarter to start a 12-5 run to end the game and close the deficit to five points.
Hubbard led Dixon with 23 points to go over the 20 marker for the third time in the last five games after hitting it just three times in the first 16 contests.
He was one of just four Bulldogs to score, joining Anthony Bajcar with 15, Everett Lewis 13 and Max Bailey five.
Here are results of the game:
Dixon 14 13 10 19-56
East Carteret... 13 22 13 13-61
DIXON (56) – Hubbard 23, Bajcar 15, Lewis 13, Bailey 5.
EAST CARTERET (61) – Brooks 29, Austin 11, Nelson 6, Hymon 5, Shelton 4, Tillett 3, Rose 3.