CLAYTON — For Clayton girls basketball coach Marlon Lee, it was simply a matter of execution.
Harnett Central had the upper hand in that key component in Wednesday nights Greater Neuse River 4A Conference game, and it led to a 45-35 victory for the visiting Trojans.
Offensively, we just didnt execute, Lee said. We took a lot of tough shots and missed a lot of easy shots that we normally make. Defensively, we know their big gun is DeAnneisha Jackson on the blocks. We did a good job some times [on Jackson] but not at other times.
The Comets started cold, missing their first nine 3-pointers, and stayed that way from the outside -- going 2-for-17 from beyond the arc. It was particularly costly in the first half, when the Comets scored just 12 points.
Meanwhile, Jackson was working inside for buckets, finishing with a game-high 16 points.
The Comets (7-2, 0-2 Greater Neuse River 4A) made a third-quarter run, however, cutting a 15-point halftime lead to six at 30-24 with 3:45 left in the third quarter on an inside basket by Vanessa Pitts.
That basket was the last of the period for the Comets, a rash of turnovers and missed outside shots helping the Trojans (9-1, 1-1) build their edge back up to 35-24 by the end of the period.
Clayton other loss this season was to defending league champion Southeast Raleigh, the same squad that handled Harnett Central their only loss this season.
Down 15 at the half, I said that if we cut it in half going into the fourth quarter, we would be OK, Lee said. We cut it to six and then we made a few turnovers and they got the momentum back. We just ran out of gas.
But weve lost to Southeast Raleigh and Harnett Central, two of the tougher teams in the conference. Well be all right.
Harnett Central had a lot to do with Claytons offensive woes, playing a tight man-to-man defense the entire game and keeping any Comet from reaching double figures in scoring. Jenna Harris and Taisha Murphy had eight points each to lead the Comets.
Offensively, we played pretty good, Harnett Central coach Bennie Pollack said. But I think most of that came from our defense. Our defense tonight was as good as it has been all year. We did it tonight against what I think is a pretty good team.
We were in the passing lanes and making them do some stuff they didnt normally do.
Pollack got good play from his two guards Erica Holmes and Brisha Gilbert who had five assists each.
I told the girls they would make a run at us, Pollack said of the Comets third-quarter surge. To our girls credit, when they made their run, we stayed with our offense. These girls are so unselfish. We make the extra pass. That is what it takes.
And that was what gave the Trojans the edge in execution.