WENDELL — After a tight contest through three quarters, Garner used a dominating fourth quarter to steamroll East Wake 70-44 Tuesday night.
Despite the lopsided final score, Trojans coach Eddie Gray said his team escaped with a hard-fought win.
This is always a tough venue to play in, Gray said. I thought we let things get away from us through the middle parts of that game. But our defensive intensity picked up and when we cut down on some of the errors we were able to pull away.
Senior shooting guard Demarcus Sanford paced the Trojans, coming just shy of a double-double with 15 points and eight assists.
Sanfords backcourt mate, point guard Julius Barnes, did his job with 10 points and seven assists. Kyreece Mills and Patrick Henneghan, who finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively, completed the Trojans players who reached double figures.
If we dont get guard play, were not going to win, Gray said with a laugh. Guard play is a big component for this team this year. We got great play out of our starters tonight and thats why we pulled out this win.
East Wake (1-8, 0-2 Greater Neuse River 4A) had just one player finish in double digits, as Quincy Jackson used his size inside to muscle out 17 points along with five blocked shots. Josh Siler didnt have a great shooting night for the Warriors, but he still finished with eight points and three rebounds.
I thought Quincy played well for us tonight, East Wake coach Darrin Stinson said. Josh was off his game tonight just a bit, but I thought he fought for us. I just wish more shots would have fallen for him.
Garner (6-1, 1-0) jumped to a quick 14-8 lead at the 3-minute, 53-second mark and held a 21-10 lead after the first quarter. Defensively, the full-court press from the Trojans gave the Warriors fits.
Both teams fought during the second quarter as East Wake found holes in the press and slowed down the Trojans offensive push. But Garner still held a 34-25 lead heading into the locker rooms.
Sanford lived up to his title as a senior captain during the first half, scoring 10 points along with four assists and four rebounds. The guard put it together on both ends of the floor, using his speed to disrupt passes and pressure the Warriors.
If (Sanford) doesnt play well, then weve got problems, Gray said. These kind of performances are expected of him at this point.
East Wake continued to rally during the third quarter, pulling the score to 42-37 with just over three minutes left. The Warriors headed into the fourth quarter trailing 50-42.
The Trojans scored four quick points to start the final quarter, forcing the Warriors to call a timeout at the 6:23 mark. Garner continued to get buckets at will as it executed an 18-0 run to put the game away.
Despite their efforts, the shots didnt fall for the Warriors down the stretch. East Wake managed a mere two points during the fourth quarter, compliments of free throws by Nick Cook with just over 10 seconds left.
I cant really explain what happened to us in the last quarter, Stinson said. I thought we got caught up on some picks and even when Quincy would get a big block, they got easy layups because we couldnt get the rebounds.