A record season ends for First Flight

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, March 6, 2019

In a close game until the end, First Flight’s men’s basketball squad was defeated 78 to 69 by Greene Central in the third round of the state 2A playoffs, ending the Nighthawks best season ever.

The ’Hawks came out strong and had a 23 to 11 lead after the first quarter. Greene Central got hot in the second and poured in 30. The half ended with Greene Central up by one.

In the third, there were multiple lead changes and ties as the teams traded baskets. First Flight, however, missed a number of critical free throws. Greene Central had a two point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

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Senior shooter Reese Jones hit a couple threes as the Nighthawks kept it close midway through the final quarter. But Greene Central managed to pull away and took it by nine points.

After the game, coach Chad Williams told the fans that he was proud of his guys and they had every reason to hold their heads high.

“What an incredible ride with this group,” he said. “I’ve never had more fun coaching or been more proud of a group than this year’s team.

“It was an awesome game tonight that just didn’t go our way,” Williams said. “It’s nothing to hold our head [down] about.

“Thank you Nighthawks fans who showed out in full force – it was a great basketball game!” he added.

Williams was also pleased with the season on the whole. The hot-handed Nighthawks set several new school records and one big time state record.

They recorded 20 victories, a first for a ’Hawks hoops team. In addition, they battled and defeated familiar Northeastern Coastal Conference foes Bertie, Hertford and Northeastern and even grabbed first in the conference tournament.

One key to their success was hard work with leadership from Williams. Their plan of attack was solid, a no-foul, help defense with traps and quick hands.

But what really opened up games for them was made three pointers. According to online sports site MaxPreps, First Flight made 382 threes in 680 attempts, a state record.

All season long, coach Chad Williams said if his team was in their rhythm, they could play with anyone. But against Greene Central, it just didn’t happen.

His squad did, however, roll to victories in rounds one and two of the tournament.

In second round action last Thursday, Feb. 28, South Columbus first jumped out to a 32-26 halftime lead. In the second half, First Flight guard Tyler Witt got the Nighthawks playing at their speed in the second half, leading to a 69-63 victory. All five starters played the entire second half.

The Nighthawks took a 54-53 lead midway through the fourth quarter and hung on to the end of the game, which was played way down south in Tarbor City.

Home fans were treated to a true dose of Nighthawks’ domination when they pounded visiting Fairmont 72-46 on Tuesday, Feb. 26 in the first round of the state 2A playoffs in Kill Devil Hills.

The hot shooting Nighthawks poured in plenty of three-pointers and routed the Golden Tornadoes from the opening whistle until the last.

The whole gym would explode when one of the guys would hit a big three. Dylan Blake kept knocking them down from his favorite spot on the floor.

The junior point guard ended his season with 605 points; junior guard Jordan High scored 510 and senior Jones had 492.

But Williams will tell you quick, teamwork is what makes this club tick.

Together, the squad averaged 73 points per game and scored a total of 2129 points. They finished 20-9 overall, 8-2 in conference.