ABINGDON, Va. — No matter the sport and no matter the season, Abingdon High School’s Haynes Carter plays hard, and the wins usually follow.
The relentless 6-foot-1 senior guard finished with 20 points, eight assists and four rebounds last Tuesday night as the Falcons earned a 78-58 victory over Wise County Central in the first round of the Mountain 7 District boys basketball tournament.
The guy who also excels on the football field and the track doesn’t mind doing the dirty work on the hardwood, whether that means taking a charge, hounding a ball-handler, battling for a rebound or hustling after a loose ball.
“Haynes is kind of our utility guy,” said AHS coach Aaron Williams. “Defensively, he can play every position we ask him to play. We just count on him in a lot of ways — his passing, he takes good shots, he shoots a pretty high percentage. He’s just been our glue guy all season.”
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Abingdon (15-7) hit its first five shots last Tuesday and finished with 11 3-pointers.
Central matched that hot shooting output for most of the first half, yet there was a reason the Warriors trailed by 14 points at the break.
“I looked at the statistics at halftime, and we were shooting right at 60%, and they were at 60%,” said Central coach Justin Boggs. “The big difference was we had 10 turnovers the first half, and they had one. We outscored them in the third quarter, but the deficit was too much. They are a good team and have four or five kids you have to account for, and when they are shooting that well, it’s hard to stop.”
Dayton Osborne (22 points, nine rebounds, three steals), James Whitted (18 points, seven steals, five assists), Konnor Kilgore (nine points, five assists, four rebounds) and Luke Honaker (nine points, four rebounds, three assists) also played well for the Falcons.
Abingdon is already locked in as the fourth seed for this week’s Region 3D tournament, but the Falcons aren’t taking the Mountain 7 tourney lightly. They play Gate City today in a semifinal game in Big Stone Gap.
“This is a district tournament that we have a lot of pride for,” Williams said. “Gate City, we owe them one, because they got us last time, and [regular-season champion] Union’s a good basketball team. We’re kind of living in this moment this week and trying to get better.”
Williams would like to see the Falcons crank up the defensive intensity.
“I thought our offense got in the mode where we thought we could just outscore them, and I don’t think the defense played with a lot of urgency,” the coach said. “I’m a little disappointed in the defensive end, but give Wise Central credit. They kept improving and getting better. They were an improved team from the first time we played them until this game, and you have to give credit to their coaching staff and players for coming out and playing hard in this game.”
Ethan Collins led the Warriors with 18 points, while Casey Dotson and Gavin Hall added a dozen points apiece. The seventh-seeded squad pulled within 54-42 with 2:35 left in the third quarter, but that glimmer of hope disappeared quickly.
Central finished the season with a 3-20 record.
“It was a hard season, but they had a good attitude the whole way,” said Boggs, in his first season at the helm. “They worked and worked, and they were always giving 110%, and I appreciate those guys for doing that.”
The same could be said about Haynes Carter’s all-out effort never waning.
“I just like to play hard on defense, and the offense comes from that,” Carter said. “Defense is where it’s at, so I just have to hustle all the time.”
The 2021 postseason for Abingdon featured a regional championship and a Class 3 state runner-up finish.
Carter would like to put together a sequel of sorts.
“I want to take in every moment and play as hard as I can in every game and every practice,” Carter said. “For us seniors this is our last few games, so we’ll see how it goes.”