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Bartlett holds on for 2-point win over Larkin

Bartlett escaped from Larkin's gym with a hard-fought 55-53 win Friday night in Upstate Eight action.

Armani Ivy's three-point shot at the buzzer to win the senior night game for Larkin rimmed out.

With 18.2 seconds left on the clock, the Hawks led 55-51. Jacob Blakely reduced the lead to two after connecting on two free throws, the last of the junior's game-high 24 points.

Neither team was able to take advantage of scoring opportunities in the waning seconds. Larkin turned the ball over and missed a basket while Bartlett (18-11, 11-6) was unable to connect on two free throw opportunities. The Royals rebounded the second Hawk free throw attempt to set up Ivy's shot.

Although it was nerve wracking, Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith thought the game was good preparation for upcoming play offs.

"A few free throws earlier and this game wouldn't be as exciting. We been scuffling, playing defense but not hitting shots. Going up in the fourth quarter and then losing," the Bartlett coach said. "The kids needed this one. Going into the postseason, we just need to go out their and play our kind of basketball."

Larkin led from the middle of the second quarter until the 6:41 mark of the fourth period when a Nate Scearce basket put the Hawks on top 43-42. Larkin's defense limited Kelton McEwen, Bartlett's top scorer, to six points but Scearce took up the slack, scoring a team-high 18 points.

"Kelton had the better defender on him, and he was getting face guarded," Scearce said. "He's usually the play maker so I had to step up and make the plays."

The junior was also effective on the defense end, pulling down nine rebounds.

A Scearce free throw, a McEwen trey from the right corner and William Poulopoulos's layup widened the Hawks' lead to seven, 49-42. Logan Leaver (eight points) narrowed the margin back to four with a bucket and a charity toss. The two teams traded baskets keeping the margin to four until the last seconds of the contest.

Bartlett's defense limited Blakely's scoring in the second half. After scoring 17 points in the first two quarters, the junior was limited to seven in the last 16 minutes.

"I thought our defense in the second half was stellar," said Wolfsmith. "Blakely tore us up in the first half and I thought we did a much better job on him (in the second half)."

Both teams struggled to score in the early going. Larkin (14-15, 11-6) led 10-8 at the end of the first quarter. Royal shooters found their mark midway through the second quarter. After a Poulopoulos basket put the Hawks up 12-10, the Royals went on a 17-6 run to take a 27-18 lead, their biggest of the night with 2:39 left in the half. Blakely made five baskets during the run. The Hawks rallied and trailed by four at intermission, 29-25.

"I think it was an off night for shooting," said Larkin coach Deryn Carter. "It was also a little bit of shot selection. Settling for shot when we could have taken it to the basket a little more."

Darnell Wilder scored 10 points for the Royals.