BENSON — Clayton girls basketball coach Marlon Lee starts three sophomores and two juniors. The Comets are young, but they are also talented.
And they are also winning.
Center Vanessa Pitts, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, scored 20 points and sophomore guard Tajah Clark added 14 points as the Comets topped West Johnston 49-26 Friday night in a Greater Neuse River 4A Conference game.
Taisha Murphy, the third starting sophomore, had nine points as the Comets improved to 9-3, 2-3 in the conference.
“I expect so much out of them that half the time I forget they are sophomores,” Lee said of his young players. “I try to build off it. Just trying to let them know that the little things can hurt us in a tight ball game. But they are learning, have a great attitude.
“I’m seeing them progressing. We had a great day of practice yesterday and came out and played well tonight.”
Clayton was coming off a loss to East Wake but pulled away from West Johnston (2-10, 1-5) in the third quarter – opening up a 38-20 lead by the end of the period.
“We want our defense to create offense,” Lee said “And if we can spread defenses out, Vanessa can have a field day down low. If we are kicking the ball out and knocking down shots, we are hard to beat.
“We’re just taking every game at a time and trying to get better. That’s all we’re doing. They are getting game experience and getting better and we hope it carries on the rest of this season and next year too.”
West Johnston was led by junior Jarmeia Holder’s nine points.
“At halftime, we’re six points down,” West Johnston coach Bill Pepicello said. “We can basically with just about everybody for 16 minutes of basketball. We just need to get in better shape.”
Pitts controlled the paint, grabbing rebounds on the offensive and defensive end. In the fourth quarter, she scored on three of four Comets possessions, following up teammates’ missed shots on the offensive glass for two of the baskets.
“The sky is the limit for her,” Lee said. “If she continues to work and get better, the sky is the limit.”