WENDELL — Following a first quarter where Southeast Raleigh was unable to gain any sort of control, the Bulldogs dominated the final three frames to defeat East Wake, 65-48, on Friday night.
Southeast coach John Baker knew going into the game East Wake was not a team to overlook.
“(East Wake) Coach (Darrin) Stinson is a great coach and any time we come down here we expect a dogfight,” Baker said. “The fans got their money's worth and I know our guys learned a lot from this one.”
For Stinson, the game was a chance to prove his team’s worth in the conference. But after a first quarter where everything seemed to be going right, he said his team faltered due to a lack of toughness.
“We just got out of whack after the first quarter,” Stinson said. “When you’re not disciplined and you’re not tough, it shows. They had several guys who made us pay for that and our young guys were not able to catch back up.”
Though the matchup between Southeast (8-4 overall, 3-0 Greater Neuse River 4A) and East Wake (3-10, 1-3) was one-sided on the scoreboard, the Warriors entered the game with momentum, winning two of their three games prior to facing the Bulldogs. Of those was a 70-64 overtime victory over Harnett Central.
But a gutsy, 17-point performance by Justin Morris – including a huge fast-break dunk in the second quarter – and balanced scoring by other shooters like Kwamaine Fairley (12 points) and William Walker (9) was enough to overcome East Wake’s early confidence.
“Justin has been playing well since the Durham holiday tournament we played in,” Baker said. “He really grew up there and he’s a big reason for our recent success. The whole team is growing, but Justin is becoming a leader for us.”
The Bulldogs had rocky moments in the first four minutes of the game as the Warriors opened up an 8-0 lead. But Southeast closed the first frame on a 14-6 run to knot the score at 14 points each.
From that point onward, the Bulldogs suffocated the Warriors defensively and got it done on the other side of the floor – outscoring East Wake in each quarter.
“We came out and executed the way we wanted to,” Stinson said. “You can’t ask for a better start, but we have to maintain that. It just went away from us after the first quarter.”
After not making a shot in the final 1:37 in the first quarter, the Warriors continued to struggle offensively. The scoring drought lasted until Quincy Jackson broke the silence with a free throw at the 2:36 mark in the second. Southeast held a 36-23 lead at the half.
East Wake started out hot in the second half, bringing the score to 38-34 at the 5:36 mark in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs answered with a 13-0 run and remained steady down the final stretch to put the game away.
With the win, Southeast remained in the top three in the conference alongside Clayton and Garner. As for East Wake, Stinson is now looking for his team to re-establish its recent confidence.
“I guess it’s time to pick up the pieces,” Stinson said. “Again.”