Evans High School's boys basketball squad has become a staple of the annual 100 Black Men of Augusta Thanksgiving Basketball Classic.
The tournament at Richmond Academy offers area teams the opportunity to face programs they might not normally play. It also gives coaches solid nonregion games to test their teams early in the season.
Knights coach Kevin Kenny got the benefit of both Friday afternoon in the 17th annual tournament.
Evans got off to a lightning-fast start in a matchup with Butler, but a methodical comeback helped the Bulldogs pull out a 60-55 victory over the Knights.
"Our kids battled. We had opportunities to win the game," Kenny said. "They're going to hustle and they're going to scrap for every single thing. We're not real big, so that's what we have to do."
In the Knights' other tournament game, they fell 69-60 to McCormick (S.C.) on Saturday. Trevor Foreman led the way, scoring a game-high 24 points.
Against Butler, Evans clogged the lane early and was able to force turnovers. It led to breaks the other way and 3-pointers in transition. The Knights started the game on a 16-3 run and led 23-6 after the first quarter.
A height disadvantage proved too much for the Knights as the game entered the second half.
Evans effectively denied inside passes to 6-foot-6 Chris Washington and 6-foot-5 Ronald Jones in the first half. However, with no player taller than 6-foot-3, Evans got beat over the top late in the contest.
"We just went over the top because we were bigger than the other players," said Washington, who finished with a game-high 26 points. "We just go over the top and it's easy from there."
The Bulldogs got within six at halftime and within two after the third quarter. They took their first lead a minute into the fourth quarter, in which they outscored Evans 17-10.
For Evans, Austin Sandifer led the way with 17 points, knocking down three of the Knights' six 3-pointers. Marvin Marshall added eight points.
Both teams were in the bonus early in the second and fourth quarters, leading to a slew of free throws on both sides.
Both sides struggled from the line. Butler finished just 17 for 34, while Evans was worse at 17 for 36.
"It was a very good game, and they're a very good team," Kenny said. "We battled, but I think the free throws hurt us."
Each point was crucial down the stretch, as Evans led with 1:32 remaining. A layup and pair of free throws from Washington put Butler up with 23 seconds left, then a layup attempt missed for the Knights. Washington iced it with two more free throws.
Jones added 14 points for Butler.
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