SULLIVAN — North Knox's basketball team found out Tuesday it can play with Class 3A No. 8 Sullivan, but it took a quarter too long to determine that.
Illinois transfers Braden Flanagan and Jackson Hills scored 24 and 19 points, and the Golden Arrows (7-1) held off a Warriors rally for a 68-59 victory.
Holtman Doades produced 20 points for North Knox (6-6), which closed a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to six after three quarters. Reece Hammelman and Brayden Thorne were also in double figures with 13 and 11 points.
"It was a valiant effort," Warriors coach Daniel Crabtree said. "The guys are down a little bit, but like I was telling them after the game is that they need to realize how close we are. We're taking steps in the right direction.
"It was a tough first quarter, but we didn't play that badly. Sullivan hit everything early. Hills was a load inside. He and Flanagan were the only two to hit field goals in the first quarter but there were a lot of them," Crabtree said. "Once we settled in and saw the ball go in the basket, our confidence went through the roof. We played them pretty evenly the rest of the way."
Doades had nine third-quarter points, and his 3-pointer seconds before the horn cut the Arrows' lead to 51-45. North Knox had a 20-11 advantage in the quarter.
"The goal was just to get it to single digits going into the fourth, because we weren't going to go on some 14-point run against them. They're too good," Crabtree said. "We exceeded our goal and gave ourselves a chance."
But the deficit never got tighter as North Knox opened the fourth quarter with three turnovers and a missed 3-pointer. Rhett Sheren's basket made it a 53-47 game, but Flanagan converted a basket and Randy Kelley drained a trifecta to push the lead to 58-47. Kelley tossed in 11 of his 18 points in the final stanza.
The closest the Warriors got after that was 60-52 on Thorne's 3-pointer with 1:30 showing. Thorne had seven of his season-high total in the final quarter.
Sullivan enjoyed a lead the whole night, scoring the game's first 11 points. It was 19-6 after one quarter, and Hills and Flanagan opened the second quarter with baskets to take it to 23-6.
The Warriors called timeout and immediately responded with the game's next 10 points. Doades notched a pair of baskets, and Hammelman followed with two free throws and a midrange jumper to cut it to 23-16. But the Arrows responded soon after with the next eight points and pushed the lead to 40-25 by intermission.
"Sullivan is as well-rounded and balanced as any basketball team we'll see," Crabtree said. "The game plan was just to make them earn everything, and after the first quarter I thought we did for the most part."
North Knox's junior varsity (4-3) fell, 39-14. Dalton Thurston led with five points and Tyson Flickinger had three.
The Warriors play at Washington at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
SULLIVAN 68, NORTH KNOX 59
Kixmiller (f) 3 0-0 7, Hammelman (g) 5 3-3 13, Doades (g) 8 3-6 20, Collins (g) 2 0-2 4, Sheren (g) 2 0-0 4, Sloan 0 0-0 0, Thorne 4 2-2 11. Totals: 24 8-13 59.
Hills (f) 9 1-2 19, King (f) 1 0-0 3, Pirtle (c) 0 1-2 1, Kelley (g) 6 4-4 18, Flanagan (g) 8 6-7 24, Adams 1 0-0 3, Roshel 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 12-15 68.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
North Knox |6-19-20-14 — 59
Sullivan |19-21-11-17 — 68
3-pointers: North Knox 3 (Doades, Thorne, Kixmiller), Sullivan 6 (Kelley 2, Flanagan 2, Adams, King). Fouls: North Knox 12, Sullivan 11. JV: Sullivan 39-14.