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NORCROSS (GA) – Camren Hayes didn’t score until late but his points had plenty of impact.
Despite being forced to sit due to foul trouble, Hayes put the ball in the basket three times to lift Ben L. Smith (NC) to a 46-41 win over Jonesboro (GA) during the 2018 Peachtree Corners Invitational at Norcross High on January 20.
Outside of impressive dunks from Jamari Smith (Jonesboro), Jaylan Gainey (Ben L. Smith) and Silas Mason (Ben L. Smith), and an early scoring surge by Smith, who scored the Cardinals’ first 14 points of the game en route to finishing with game highs of 24 points and 10 rebounds, this contest was gritty due to patient offense and stingy defense.
With less than a minute left and the score tied at 38, Hayes dribbled baseline and nailed short jumper, giving the Golden Eagles a narrow lead. After Brandon Walker split a pair free throws at the other end of the floor, Hayes sank two foul shots for a 42-39 score with 39 seconds remaining.
“Cam is our sophomore point guard and we think he is going to be a big-time player,” Ben L. Smith coach Derrick Partee said. “He was in foul trouble the whole game. He came in and rose up over the guy with his athleticism and finished with the nice, soft touch.”
But Jamari Smith responded with a tough rebound and jumper in the lane to keep the Cardinals close and continue to put the pressure on Ben L. Smith. But Jordan Williams stepped up and nailed two foul shots with 10 seconds remaining for a 44-41 score.
Then Jacob Crutchfield (nine points) stole the ball from his opponent and finished the play with a game-sealing layup.
“We always like to give some token pressure if we are up three,” Partee said. “What is the worst thing that can happen? They can only tie the game up. We always want to make the other team run some time off the clock to bring it up or give them some pressure to see if they turn it over and thankfully they turned it over.”