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WILSON — With an eight-player rotation at the disposal of the Fike High varsity boys basketball team Friday night, the opportunity existed for new faces to make their imprint for the Golden Demons against Smithfield-Selma in the third-place game of the 2018 Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament at Beddingfield High.
In crunch time, Zy’ree Wilder and Jeffery Dickerson did just that.
As the Spartans twice cut Fike’s lead to a single possession in the fourth quarter, Wilder and Dickerson both had key putbacks off their own missed free throws, helping to turn a four-point cushion into nine and pull away for a 79-71 victory.
Fike of the 3-A Big East Conference, one night after losing a late lead to archrival Hunt in the semifinal round, improved to 9-3 after entering play having lost three of its last four. Smithfield-Selma, despite 35 points from talented point guard Anthony Council, dropped to 4-6. The Demons were without the services of junior Moses Parker, who played against Hunt, due to shin splints.
“We’ve kind of had a little talk about that, and right now, we’re going with eight or nine people,” Fike head coach Brent Secrest said. “That’s about the extent of it right now. That could change depending on practices and stuff, but right now, we’re riding our horses right now.”
Dickerson, one of the more quiet Fike starters, torched the nets for a team-high 27 points for the Demons to go along with seven rebounds. Wilder had 11, with nine of his total coming in the second half. Senior Elijahwon Cooper was had 15, providing strong floor leadership down the stretch. Wilder tossed in 11 as the fourth Fike player in double figures.
Fike started strong, scoring the game’s first seven points en route to a 21-6 first-quarter lead. But turnovers and foul trouble to junior Trevon Atkinson played a role in the Spartans gradually staging a comeback. Council was tough at all three levels of the defense for Smithfield-Selma, including dribble penetration.
The Spartans closed to within 64-61 on a Council layup in the fourth quarter, but Smithfield-Selma was assessed a technical foul after an injury to Keon Lassiter brought the coaching staff onto the floor. Dickerson hit the resulting four free throws to push Fike out to a 68-61 edge with 3:31 showing. Lassiter was later seen with his arm in a sling in the training area.
Cooper and Dickerson were Fike’s representatives on the all-tournament team, while Council carried the mantle for the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference Spartans.