Despite being a four-year starting veteran in a heated rivalry against Southwest, Saturday was just another game in Northeast’s Santez Kinder’s mind.
But Kinder’s leadership mentality played out better than usual on the court, as he spread 44 points across four solid quarters of play to lead the Raiders to a 65-53 victory.
“It’s not a huge deal because I’ve been doing it for four years,” Kinder said. “It feels good, but I can’t get the big head about the situation. (Head coach Kevin Grooms) always says, ‘One team, one goal, we can achieve.’ So I’m a leader, but I still have a team behind me.”
Kinder missed just six of his 25 shot attempts and went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, while teammates Chris Spencer and Randy Harpe added 9 and 8 points, respectively, to help stave off a Southwest comeback attempt.
Overall, Northeast (5-7) shot 50 percent while making 8-of-17 free throws.
“(Kinder) is our main guy,” Grooms said. “It’s him. It’s his team. Pretty much where he goes, we go. We operate off him. He’s a senior and he knows that it’s time for college (recruitment), so you gotta score points. He knows he has to be the man this year.”
Southwest (5-8) quickly found itself in a 17-6 hole at the end of the first, but good play brought cut the halftime deficit to seven. The Raiders let their lead slip to six, as the Patriots went on a 7-2 run toward the end of the third.
But Kinder put the team on his back, closing out the final 10:28 of play with 21 points to seal the win.
“We just can’t lay down and we can’t quit,” Grooms said, ahead of a week that will include two GHSA Region 4-AA games. “We got a little comfortable with our lead, and we started relaxing a little bit and started missing shots.
“Southwest did a great job at doing what they needed to do to execute. Anytime Northeast and Southwest play each other, it’s always a rival game. Records are thrown out the window. It’s just straight competition.”
The Patriots were led by 13 points by Mylik Parks, while Justin Slocum added 12. The Patriots made 18-of-52 shots from the field and 17-of-32 attempts from the free-throw line.
The girls game swung in the opposite direction, with the Patriots defeating the Raiders 51-42. Southwest got off to a 12-4 first-quarter start, but Northeast slowly chipped away at the lead to go into the break down two.
The Raiders tied it at 31 with 1:14 to play in the third on a Zylisha Graham 3-pointer and added a three-point play by Victoria Dumas at the end of the quarter.
The Patriots overcame that with key layups down the stretch by Philmetriss Cornelius and Alizeya Michell, who respectively finished with 14 and 11 points.