WENDELL — To keep a winning streak going, sometimes you just have to win ugly.
That was the case Friday night for the Corinth Holders boys, who won their ninth straight game and improved to 11-1 overall with a grind-it-out 47-39 victory over Warren County on Friday night.
The Pirates faced a mix of box-and-one and triangle-and-two defenses from Warren County, which shadowed senior guard Kenneth Collins all night and senior point guard Kahlil Larry on occasion.
It was nothing that Corinth Holders coach Chris Davis hadn’t seen before this season, but his team’s offense struggled to find its rhythm for much of the night.
“We’ve seen the box and the triangle and they ran them both tonight,” Davis said. “We know what to do with it. We’ve seen it and struggled like we did tonight and we’ve seen it and dropped 78 points. It can happen either way.”
The Pirates, a 20-win team last season, gutted this one out. They led 26-22 at halftime and 33-31 after three quarters.
“Usually what happens when someone throws a junk defense at us, the ones that they are not trying to take away kill them,” Davis said.
But the shots weren’t falling, and Collins (16 points per game) was held to just two first-half points. His jumper with 32.9 seconds left in the third period was high only basket of the period.
The Pirates (4-0 in the Northern Carolina 2A) scored the first seven points of the final period to go up 40-31. But Warrenton (7-4, 1-2) fought back to pull within 40-37 with three minutes left in the game.
Then Davis pulled his team out into a spread offense and the quicker Pirates made the Eagles chase the basketball, keeping it in the hands of Collins and Larry. The tactic worked to perfection, with Larry hitting four straight free throws and a driving basket to push the lead back to 46-39. Collins made a free throw with 25 seconds left for the final margin.
“If those guys are fouled, they are going to make free throws,” Davis said. “We were able to turn things on when we needed to turn things on. We had spurts all night long … but we kept them in the game by being inconsistent in what we were doing.
“We have got to be consistent in what we are doing. I think this team has potential to be real special but we have got to keep improving and moving forward.”
Ki-yon Walden, Klilah Cox and Larry led Corinth Holders with 10 points each. Collins finished with seven.
Daniel Hunter, a 6-foot-8 senior center, led Warrenton with 17 points and A.J. Alston had 11.
“We just couldn’t buy an outside shot,” Warrenton coach Wanda Thompson said. “We had been hitting them. This is probably the coldest we have been all season. In the second half, they were double- and triple-teaming Daniel [Hunter]. We had to hit those outside shots and we just didn’t.”
And that allowed the streaking Pirates to notch another victory, even if it wasn’t the prettiest one of the season.