With Montgomery Bell Academy’s ship sinking fast, someone needed to bail out the Big Red.
As of last week, MBA was 6-10 overall and winless (0-5) in Division II-AA. Several of the defeats fell into the ‘close but not quite’ category.
Along came Kamani Hodges. Just in time.
Last Tuesday it appeared the Big Red were doomed again because they trailed almost the entire way against Brentwood Academy. Then Hodges rifled in a 3-point shot from the right wing at the final buzzer and lifted MBA to an improbable 56-54 victory.
It was a shot that likely saved the season. Just three days later, MBA rolled to a 77-63 victory over rival Father Ryan.
“I just didn’t want to lose that game,” Hodges, a 6-foot-1 senior captain, said about of the Brentwood Academy contest. “It felt good when it left my hand. I just hopes that’s something that gets us going.
“We hadn’t been playing well until this week, but it looks like we re starting to put things together. Hopefully, we can get on a roll.”
Both wins last week avenged two earlier losses, which were part of a seven-game losing streak.
The first time MBA and Ryan met (Jan. 2), the Irish won 42-41 on the Big Red court.
Last Friday, MBA led wire-to-wire and set a season-high for points scored. It did so against a usually stout, solid Ryan defense. MBA led by as many as 16 (62-46).
“All in all, that [win over Ryan] was our best game all year to this point,” MBA coach Kevin Anglin said. “We have struggled an awful lot this year, but it looks like we’re starting to regain our confidence.
“We were excellent offensively, and anytime you can score that many points on a [coach] Doug Bontrager team which plays great defense, you have to feel good.”
Junior guard Duncan Smith scored 14 points and led a balanced MBA offense, which got points from 11 different players including four who scored 10 or more. Senior Tom Kaiser and Andrew Einstman scored 12 each and Vinny Gaglioni added 11.
“It’s the best time of the year to start playing your best,” Smith, who bombed in four 3-pointers, said. “… It’s going to be something when the tournaments start. I just hope our team can build on this past week.”
Hodges scored eight points, all in the second half, but he didn’t need to be a factor. Everyone else picked up the slack.
Plus, he had a pretty big hoop Tuesday.
“We’ve had some players out in the last several weeks, either with sickness or injuries,” Anglin said. “We’re starting to get them back.”
With the Division II tournament coming up early next month, expect some more wild games.
On the same night as Hodges’ buzzer-beater, top-ranked Ensworth outfought scrappy BGA 87-82. Brentwood Academy bounced back from the loss to MBA by rallying in the second half to beat BGA 56-49 Friday.
The Division II tournament, which opens Feb. 16, should be fun to watch.
Antioch at Hillwood
Battle Ground Academy at Father Ryan
Brentwood Academy at Ensworth
Clarksville Academy at Nashville Christian School
Davidson Academy at University School of Nashville
Donelson Christian Academy at Ezell-Harding
East Nashville at M.L. King
Franklin Road Academy at St. Cecilia, girls
Franklin Road Academy vs. Nashville Central Christian, at TPS (boys)
Glencliff at Hunters Lane
Harpeth Hall at Pope John Paul II
Hillsboro at Brentwood High
Hume-Fogg at Whites Creek
Maplewood at Pearl-Cohn
McGavock at Springfield
Merrol Hyde at Davidson Academy
Overton at Cane Ridge
Stratford at Christ Presbyterian Academy
St. Cecilia at Davidson Academy (girls)