RALEIGH — Correspondent
Prior to Monday’s matchup against Roxboro Person, Leesville Road had very little playoff experience on the basketball court. By the fourth quarter, however, it had all the experience it needed, hitting free-throws and maintaining its poise as it picked up a 50-45 win in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.
Person jumped out to a 7-2 start early in the game, and led 12-8 at the end of the first quarter. Leesville (19-8) then responded with a 10-0 run to take the lead in the second. Leesville coach Russ Frazier chalked his team’s rough start to its lack of postseason experience.
“We were a little uptight to start out with,” Frazier said “Our nervous butterflies turned into energy, we finally broke out of the nervous streak and we started playing. We were patient, we moved the basketball and we played very well in the half-court to get good looks.”
Leesville took a 24-22 lead into the half, despite struggling to stop Person’s Tyrone Outlaw. The 6-foot-6 UNC-Greensboro commit scored 15 of his team’s first-half points, hitting three 3-point baskets during that span.
Frazier wasn‘t surprised by Outlaw‘s outburst, but he didn‘t change his game plan around solely to stop him.
“We had to communicate and know where he was at,” Frazier said. “We did what we do.”
Leesville’s plan worked in third quarter, as Outlaw was held scoreless. Still, the Pride trailed 32-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
The difference in the fourth quarter proved to be senior Reggie Jones, the one Leesville player who had been in the playoffs before. Jones hit four big free throws and completed a key three point play to help his team hold on for the win.
“We’re hungry right now,” Jones said, “We haven’t been in the playoffs in a while and we wanted to see another game.”
Jones finished with 13 points. Outlaw scored a game-high 23 for Person.
With the win under their belt, Leesville will face a familiar foe in the second round. It will travel to Broughton to face a team it is winless against in three tries, the last of which was 67-58 loss in the CAP-8 championship game.