NORTH AUGUSTA— Ahmed Hill walked to the foul line, wanting just that first free throw.
He did even better, making a pair of free throws that put the Southern Stampede into the final of the Nike Peach Jam.
Hill, a rising junior on Aquinas’ boys basketball team, came through late from the field and at the line as the Southern Stampede beat Team SCAN, 51-49, Saturday night at North Augusta’s Riverview Park Activities Center. The win puts the team into today’s 1 p.m. 16 & Under championship game.
“If I get one, we can play for the championship,” Hill remembers thinking.
Hill, a four-star prospect, scored 12 points – 11 in the second half – as he overcame some shooting woes and a few costly turnovers.
He was quiet offensively for most of the night, though he did score the first point of the game on a free throw. But he had to wait until a little more than five minutes remained in the game to make his first field goal.
That 3-pointer added with another bucket as the Southern Stampede, once down five points in the second half because of Quincy McKnight's 10 second-half points, led 41-39.
Team SCAN tied it twice after that, but Southern Stampede’s Marcus Stroman – a South Carolina commit – made a steal right after his own team’s turnover and sunk two foul shots.
Stroman added two more free throws with 31.5 seconds remaining as he ended with 11 points; he made all eight of his attempts from the charity stripe.
“It feels great,” Stroman said about the win. “It’s my first time at the Peach Jam, so it’s great.”
The Southern Stampede led for most of the first half, with Elijah Staley putting up 12 by halftime thanks to a solid inside-outside game. He first showed his dribbling ability for a layup and then netted two 3s in a hurry. He scored a game-high 17.
Before that, Team SCAN battled back after opening the game without a field goal for more than seven minutes. But Shavar Newkirk made repeated trips to the foul line, hitting all seven of his first-half attempts.
It was a one-point game at the half, and the outcome wasn’t secure until that last trip to the line.
“Everybody in Augusta is going to be there,” Hill said about today’s game.