Kabir Bergin was disappointed in himself. It was right there to see on his usually smiling face. The senior missed a few free throws in the first half – and front ends of one-and-ones no less. Bergin is an excellent shooter and free throws are usually not a problem so the misses were out of character.
But Bergin and the Eagles showed their character when it mattered most on Saturday afternoon. Skyline battled back from a few big deficits to knock off Howell 48-46 in the second game of the Ann Arbor Classic at Pioneer HS. And it was Bergin’s shooting that made the difference in the end.
Bergin led Skyline with 23 points. Chris Cayton had seven points and Jack Williams scored six as the Eagles improved to 3-1 on the season.
After Bergin tied the game at 40-40 with two free throws, Skyline’s Gabe Kellman made a nice steal under the basket. The ball went down the floor to Bergin who knocked down a triple from the wing to give the Eagles a 43-40 lead.
Two big free throws by Cayton gave Skyline a 45-40 lead with 1:08 to play in the game. But it wasn’t going to be easy. Howell’s Will Hann hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 45-43.
Skyline’s Jermaine Davis hit two huge free throws to make it 47-43 with 21.9 seconds left in the game. After Howell hit a free throw, the Highlanders got the ball back with 12.8 seconds left on the clock.
Hann was fouled shooting a three-pointer with 6 seconds left but the senior missed the first free throw. He made the next two to cut the deficit to 47-46. Davis was fouled with 4.2 seconds left and made the first but missed the second.
The Highlanders hustled the ball to midcourt and called time out with 1.2 seconds left in the game. They got off a running shot from the corner but the ball bounced off the rim and the Eagles won 48-46.
The game didn’t exactly start out well for the Eagles. A technical foul for dunking during warm-ups resulted in two free throws and a 2-0 lead for the Highlanders before the game even started.
The lead didn’t last long. Bergin knocked down a triple to make it 3-2 in the first minute of action. A triple from the corner by Williams gave the Eagles a 13-8 lead. But the Highlanders stormed back and took a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A triple by Howell’s Tony Honkala gave the Highlanders a 23-15 lead midway through the second quarter. But it would be Howell’s last points of the first half. Bergin knocked down a shot inside, Cayton hit a field goal and Bergin again hit a shot to cut the deficit to 23-21at halftime.
The third quarter was more of the same as the teams battled back and forth.
Williams hit a three-pointer to cut Howell’s lead to 26-24. Howell’s Bobby Samples hit a triple from closer to midcourt than the three-point line to give the Highlanders a 33-25 lead.
Bergin hit a triple to cut the deficit to 33-30 and then the senior knocked down a long triple to tie the game at 33-33 with 1:15 to play in the third. But the Highlanders came roaring back to take the lead again. Skyline’s Ashay Arora hit a tough shot in the lane at the buzzer to cut the lead to 38-35 after three.
In the fourth quarter, Bergin hit two free throws to cut Howell’s lead to 38-37. With 4:29 left in the game, Cayton knocked down a free throw to tie the game at 38-38. Howell hit two free throws to take a 40-38 lead with 3:14 left in the game.