Written by Justin Parker
Friday night didn't begin well for Hopewell, but it ended in a lively celebration as the Titans knocked off Hough 63-56 at home for arguably their best win of not only the year but in some time.
It's Hopewell's first win over Hough since Jan. 24, 2012, almost three years to the day. Hough had won five straight against the Titans.
"This is a win that this program needs," said Hopewell coach Damon Bost.
To get it, the Titans had to overcome an early 11-0 deficit. Hough jumped on the Titans in the first 3:31 and appeared poised for a big night. But Bost called a timeout to calm his team, and Hopewell steadily fought back.
"We kept our composure, nipped and tucked our way back into it," said Bost.
The focus was to get stops, but the Titans (8-9, 2-6 MECKA) did more than that. Trailing 17-5 late in the first quarter, they went on a 19-2 run to take a 24-19 lead in the second and held on to a 28-27 edge at the break.
The teams were back and forth in the third quarter, and Hough's Luke Maye scored 14 of his 21 in the fourth. But the Titans got key 3-pointers from Raquon Houston and Brian Smart, and when Tre Faison stole the ball and dunked with three minutes left, the Titans had their largest lead of the night, 53-42.
Hopewell hit enough free throws down the stretch — 10-of-16 in the final 2:21 — to seal it.
Smart scored 21 to lead the Titans, while Houston had 14 and Faison added 12. Michael Grigg scored 12 for Hough, which fell to 12-6 and 5-3.
The Hopewell win ties the all-time series between the rivals at 5-5. Hopewell won the teams' first four meetings.
As for the latest Titan victory, it had the feeling of a breakthrough win, and perhaps also the kind the Titans can build on as January fades and more tests loom.
"I'm hoping so," said Bost.
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