East Wake knew to expect a good fight from a Rolesville team that was riding the momentum of its first win of the season into their boys basketball matchup Tuesday.
The Rams (1-8, 1-1 Greater Neuse River 4A) trailed by just two possessions with one minute to play but the Warriors (5-3, 1-1) held off down the stretch to win, 49-39.
“I think getting that first win gave them a boost and I knew it would,” East Wake coach Gerald Melton said of the Rams’ 45-44 victory over Southeast Raleigh on Dec. 11. “(Rolesville coach) Tommy (Moore) is a great coach and I knew he was going to get them to play at a high level.”
A driving bucket by the Bryan Canty (14 points) had the Rams within five points at the 1:00 mark followed by a Rolesville timeout and full-court press with the score at 44-39, but it would be the Rams’ final points of the game. East Wake’s Brandon Rogers put the game on ice after being fouled with 23.7 seconds to play and hitting both shots for an 8-point cushion.
Melton felt fortunate to get back to winning after back-to-back losses to Rocky Mount and Garner, and considering his team is still playing without a true point guard.
His best fill-in for that position, Josh Siler, showed up big in the first half with 18 points including four 3-pointers, but also three fouls.
“That first quarter, Siler making those 3-pointers kind of put a dagger in our heart,” Moore said. “Sometimes a team will just say, ‘OK here we go again,’ and quit, but we didn’t quit. That’s very encouraging.”
Siler finished the game with 20 points after picking up a fourth foul and seeing limited action in the second half.
“He shot the ball well but then got in foul trouble,” Melton said. “Luckily tonight he hit those shots. Without some of those (3-pointers) it would have been a different game.”
After leading 26-19 at the half, the Warriors went into a 3-2 zone that took three minutes for Rolesville to break. But without Siler on the court, Rolesville stayed close thanks to opportunities created by its own zone defense.
East Wake led 34-26 entering the final frame.
“(Rolesville) did a good job of sitting back in that zone, and you’ve got to have a guy who can be patient and swing the ball, get it inside, and we just don’t have that right now,” Melton said. “We’re struggling without a point guard, and it’s obvious. We’ve got guys who are just uncomfortable there trying to play it.”
Quincy Jackson was the only other Warrior in double digits scoring, with 11 points.
Moore said it is important for his young Rams, in their second varsity season, to stay competitive in games whether they are won or lost.
“That’s our key – we have to hang around as long as we can and then maybe try to make a play to win one,” he said. “They’ve actually been playing hard and focused all year. We’ve had little spells where we were real competitive. I’m just impressed with their effort and attitude.”
East Wake girls 71, Rolesville 33
The Warriors got off to a sluggish start by their own standards, but responded to a halftime pep talk to blow open Tuesday’s girls basketball game against Rolesville.
The Warriors (5-3, 2-0 Greater Neuse River 4A) rolled to a 71-33 triumph after returning from the locker room to outscore the Rams 23-2 in the third quarter.
“We needed to play two halves,” East Wake coach Toni Vick-Dupree said. “We just started out slow.”
The home team didn’t start all that slow. East Wake led 16-11 after one quarter and 35-21 at the half.
But that wasn’t enough according to senior forward Kianna Wynn, who scored 12 of her game-high 17 points in the first half.
“We should have played our first half like we did our second half,” Wynn said. “We actually came out and took (Rolesville) for granted when we should have come out (aggressive) from the jump.
Rolesville (2-7, 0-2) experienced more miscues the longer East Wake’s 18-0 run to start the third quarter lasted, but finally broke a 6:08 period of scoring silence on a 15-foot jumper by Bethany Lockhart.
The Rams were led by Jaylin Powell (11 points) and Valencia Carroll (9).
Behind Wynn, Angel Rizor finished with 12 points and Tamira Knuckles had 11 for the Warriors.