WOODSTOCK — On the final day of basketball competition before Thanksgiving, King’s Academy beat Woodstock 60-59 in overtime Tuesday night in the final game of the Wolverine Classic.
Behind aggressive defense and efficient offense, King’s Academy (5-3) overcame a 21-point halftime deficit to tie the game 52-all at the end of regulation before holding on for victory in the extra period.
Woodstock’s Rakim Thompson found himself a shot at the buzzer to possibly win the game, but it was no good.
“This was a big one for us,” King’s Academy coach Brett Hereth said. “I felt like we were being selfish in the first half, and in the second half, I think we really moved the ball freely. I think that was the difference in the game.”
King’s Academy, which plays in the Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools, finished last season in the semifinals of its state playoffs, but Tuesday night’s accomplishment was impressive on its own.
The Knights, who had 11 players try out for the team, defeated an opponent from Georgia’s highest classification for the second time in three days. They beat Lassiter 59-58 on Saturday during the first day of the Wolverine Classic.
King’s Academy’s senior Brock Hoover scored a team-high 23 points, 21 of which came on seven 3-pointers.
After the final buzzer, Hoover flexed in celebration as he and his teammates enjoyed the moment.
“The first half was pretty bad actually,” Hoover said. “We couldn’t really get in a rhythm with our substitutions, and our starting point guard actually forgot his shorts, so, right off the bat, it wasn’t great.
“The second half, we just got in a rhythm and started playing like we knew we could. This was probably the most fun game I’ve ever played in.”
Woodstock (3-3) was dominant through the first two quarters, forcing turnovers and pushing the ball on the other end.
Thompson, who finished with a game-high 26 points, scored 16 in the first half and was able to get his teammates involved as well. Ezekiel Pettway scored nine of his 13 points in the first quarter, but, as the game developed, was unable to find his rhythm offensively.
Woodstock led 40-19 at the half.
“The first half, I thought we played like we should have,” Woodstock coach Josh Pierce said. “The second half, I felt like we were a completely different team. We started settling for jump shots and we didn’t match their intensity. They got hot, and they got hot quick.”
King’s Academy made six of its 10 3-pointers in the second half, with Hoover responsible for four. Defense is what fueled the comeback, however, as the Knights were able to force a number of turnovers, which led to transition opportunities on the other end.
Woodstock was held to seven points in the third quarter and five in the fourth.
“We’ve beat GHSA schools before. Not all the time, but we have,” Hereth said. “Over the last two or three years, we’ve tried to push ourselves out and play more public schools. We beat Lassiter the other night and came up just short against Etowah, but this one (Tuesday) was definitely a big one for us.
“I told my guys at halftime that if we play the right way, we’ll be there. We, by no means, played a perfect second half, but we played just hard enough to find a way to win.”
King’s Academy will play next at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at home against Johnson Ferry Christian. Woodstock will play next at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Lambert.