Holiday Invitational

Kinston rallies past Wheeler in dramatic fashion

Posted December 27, 2013

Kinston’s Andrew Lopez only finished with nine points in Friday’s Shavlik Randolph Foundation semifinal with Wheeler, Ga., However, it was his final four points in the 47-45 victory that sent the Vikings to its eighth championship appearance in the program’s 21 trips to the Holiday Invitational.

The senior point guard hit two free throws to tie the game at 45-45 with 19 seconds left, then came up with his fifth steal and a driving layup to provide the winning margin in the heart-stopping victory for the Vikings.

“I was feeling no pressure,” Lopez said. “Coach (Perry Tyndall) told us that big-time players step up in big-time games and I knew I had to make the play.”

Tyndall said, “That was a big-time bucket late in the game.”

Kinston junior guard Brandon Ingram, who battled foul trouble throughout much of the first half, ended up with 23 points and eight rebounds for the Vikings, who’ll play Orlando, Fla., Lake Highland Prep or Apex in the Randolph championship at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Vikings last won the Holiday Invitational in 1973 and have six runners-up finishes (1972, 1974, 1976, 1996, 2005 and 2009).

“I’d love to be sitting here tomorrow and celebrating this thing,” Tyndall said. “But we have another 32 minutes to play to decide it.”

Wheeler has made two appearances in the Holiday Invitational – and they’ve lost twice to Kinston, including a game played two years ago. The Wildcats (8-3), who entered the game nationally ranked in a few polls, were led by Jaylen Brown’s double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds.

“(Kinston) did a very, very good job without their leading scorer in the game,” Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb said. “They kept it close and hung in there.”


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