Taking his best shot

Malachi Moreno, an eighth-grader on the Great Crossing High School boys’ basketball team, posts up during Saturday night’s game against Madison Central.

Not all three-game losing streaks to start a boys' basketball season are created equal.

Great Crossing has endured that indignity in both campaigns of its brief history, but there's a different vibe among this year's youthful Warhawks, whose demeanor and determination don't seem to vacillate with the peaks and valleys of the scoreboard.

GC erased most of a 17-point deficit in the second half and threw another scare into an 11th Region contender before dropping a 71-66 decision Saturday night to Madison Central in its boys' basketball home opener.

That followed a Thursday night of wild twists and turns in Lexington, ultimately concluding with a 78-64 loss to Frederick Douglass.

“Hopefully tonight the kids saw what they can do,” GC coach Steve Page said. “From halftime on Tuesday night down 24 at West Jessamine to tonight, four or five days, we've made improvement, but it 100 percent comes down to the effort and enthusiasm that they gave us. They're seeing some results. A victory would go a long way.”

A 3-pointer by freshman Junius Burrell pulled the Warhawks (0-3) within three points of Central, 69-66, just inside the two-minute mark.

Jaylen Davis answered with a bucket for the Indians (3-0), and GC missed a pair of shots from beyond the arc that could have tightened the game down the stretch.

“I blame myself for that, because we've worked a lot of situations in practice, but we haven't worked on down five with 40 seconds left,” Page said. “Really you've just got to go to the rim, because Madison Central doesn't want to foul, and you need two possessions anyway. You need to wither take a layup or a wide-open three.”

Carson Walls led Great Crossing with 15 points. Burrell added 14 points, four rebounds and four assists, while junior football star Kalib Perry was a force with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Vince Dawson III, also a freshman, made it four double-digit scorers with 10 for the Warhawks. Kole Browne led all scorers with 21 points, including the 1,000th of his career for Madison Central. Davis, a sophomore, added 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Braeden Ray contributed 10 points, including a 35-footer at the first-half buzzer that left the Indians with a seemingly comfortable cushion of 41-25.

“When they made their runs, I thought we took a couple of bad shots,” Page said. “When they made that shot before halftime, we could have folded, but we progressively came back.”

Davis' third-period trifecta made it a 51-34 margin, but twin 10-0 runs brought GC back to life. Burrell and Walls both drained a 3-pointer as the Warhawks cut it to a seven-point gap with 3:44 remaining in the third.

Trey Skaggs and Ray scored eight unanswered points for Madison Central, only to see a drive by Walls and back-to-back baskets from Perry make it 59-50 with eight minutes left.

Burrell and Walls scored in succession to start the fourth period and continue the comeback. Later, Tye Schureman's terrific pass to Tyler Sparks started a traditional 3-point play just ahead of Burrell's bomb.

“I love those boys from last year, but we share the basketball probably a little bit better this year,” Page said.

Madison Central led 12-2 out of the gate until a pair of 3-pointers by Walls kicked Great Crossing into gear.

That was a stark change from Frederick Douglass, where Burrell's seven-point outburst in the first minute staked the Warhawks to a 19-7 lead.

After going on top just before the half with two free throws, Douglass ripped open a 51-36 advantage midway through the third period.

“At the end of the day, we had a huge amount of things we can build off,” Page said. “We took a young team that got punched in the mouth (at West Jessamine) and didn't respond to anything and two days later came on the road, got up 12, I guess a 27-point swing if we got down 15, but didn't quit.”

Back stormed GC on the strength of six 3-pointers — three by Schureman, two from Walls, and one courtesy of Burrell that started it all.

Perry's two free throws made it a 63-60 game with 4:20 left before the Broncos finished on a 15-4 binge. In addition to a handful of empty possessions after the gritty run, GC missed three of its next five free throws.

DaShawn Jackson led all scorers with 27 points for Douglass. Tyson Barrett added 16 points and eight rebounds, headlining a 35-22 Bronco disparity on the glass. Jackson and Barrett were a combined 18-for-26 from the floor.

“The first eight or nine minutes, we defended really well,” Page said. “Now, some of that was because we made shots. But the good part about that is we haven't defended well in practice, and we didn't defend well on Tuesday. We need it for 32 minutes, but a young team, they've got to see it. They've got to start somewhere.”

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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