12/05/10 — Lead slips away for Gators

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Lead slips away for Gators

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on December 5, 2010 1:51 AM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- The center position is not normally where the best clutch shooters make a name for themselves.

Khadra Hooker was the exception on Friday night.

The burly South Lenoir big man scored six crucial points in the final two minutes as the Devils completed a thrilling come-from-behind 64-60 win over Spring Creek.

"My job is just to be physical and dominate the paint," Hooker said afterward. "I wasn't thinking about going at anyone in particular. I was just thinking about setting up in the lane and making plays."

South Lenoir trailed by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter before starting the quest for a comeback in the final five minutes. Trailing 56-49, South Lenoir point guard Spencer Harrison buried a long-range three point basket.

After back-to-back baskets by the Gators, the Devils got their first boost from Hooker. The powerful forward grabbed a rebound and dropped in a putback. Two successful possessions later Hooker sank a turnaround layup to give the Devils their first lead of the game at 61-60.

Hooker put the game on ice with a layup with 25 seconds to play.

"I think being young on the court kind of caught up to us a little bit at the end," Spring Creek head coach Taylor Jones said. "We had a couple of bad possessions and we let (South Lenoir) get a few key rebounds and they took advantage."

Hooker finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Ty Kennedy added 13 points and eight boards in the win.

Spring Creek was paced by Deshar Thomas' 18-point effort.

"Deshar is really coming along and you could see it tonight," Jones said. "When he started flowing, we started flowing as a team."

Gerald Ulmer and Adam Haggerty each added 14 points for the Gators. Spring Creek made 11 shots from behind the 3-point arc in the game and finished 5-for-8 at the free throw line.

Spring Creek (1-3) plays host county rival Eastern Wayne on Tuesday night.