MORTONS GAP — Midway through the third quarter, Jaiveon Eaves asked his teammates a question.
“I asked the guys, ‘Are you ready now?’” said Eaves, Madisonville-North Hopkins’ senior guard. “I was like, ‘Are you ready to turn up now?’”
Eaves certainly was.
In front of a large and energetic crowd, Eaves took over Tuesday’s game against rival Hopkins County Central, scoring 15 of his game-high 36 points in the third quarter to lift the Maroons to a 91-82 victory.
The Storm led by as many as 11 points in the first half and led for most of the third quarter, but then Eaves caught fire.
He scored 13 points in a span of two minutes — a barrage of points that included a thunderous one-handed dunk that gave the Maroons their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.
“If Jaiveon doesn’t step up like he does, then we are probably on the wrong side of the scoreboard tonight,” North coach Matt Beshear said. “He put us on his back. When the game was on the line, he had the ball in his hands, and that’s what you expect from your best player.”
Eaves put the exclamation point on a thrilling game between the rivals.
North (4-2) jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but the Storm -- fueled by the hot shooting of Mason Burgett -- had an answer and ended the first quarter on a 27-10 run.
DaMontae Barnhill, who led the Storm with 28 points, opened the second quarter with a field goal to give Central a 29-18 lead -- its largest of the game.
The Storm (1-5) stayed hot the rest of the half and took a 42-39 lead into halftime in front of a large home crowd.
“That energy from the crowd helped us, especially a young group like this,” Central coach Barry Nelson said. “I am very proud with how hard my guys worked tonight. Nobody expected us to take North to the wire. Nobody gave us a shot.”
Burgett had 12 first-quarter points and had 17 by halftime to lead the Storm’s early charge.
“Mason Burgett came to play tonight,” Nelson said. “He hadn’t showed that kind of aggressiveness yet. We knew it was there, but tonight he showed it. He played his heart out.”
The Maroons chipped away at Central’s lead in the first part of the third quarter and eventually overtook the Storm with Eaves’ dunk with 2:55 left in the period. The Storm never led again.
Central stayed right on North’s heels for much of the fourth quarter and trailed by just three points with 5:13 left, but the Maroons outshot Central at the free throw line down the stretch to pull away.
Joseph Singleton also had a big game for North, finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds, and Tyrek White -- playing against his former school for the first time -- added 13 points. Noah Cunningham came off the bench to add seven points, including a clutch 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter that put the Maroons ahead by six points.
Also scoring in double figures for the Storm was Jackson Porter, who finished with 12 points.
MADISONVILLE-NORTH HOPKINS 18-21-26-28--91
HOPKINS COUNTY CENTRAL 27-15-16-24--82
North (91)- Eaves 36, Singleton 22, White 13, Cunningham 7, Parish 6, Cline 5, Kenney 2, Ashby 2.
Central (82)- Barnhill 28, Burgett 25, Porter 12, Wilson 5, James 4, Crick 3, French 2, White 1.