East Wake was hoping to snap a three-year streak of losses to Southeast Raleigh on Thursday, but not even in the holiday season were the Bulldogs that generous.
The thrice-defending Greater Neuse River 4A champs jumped on East Wake early and soared to a 53-39 triumph. It marked the eighth consecutive time the Bulldogs scrapped the Warriors, including the last two conference tournament title games.
Southeast coach Nicole Meyers considered winning the battle of Greater Neuse unbeaten teams in just the second week of league play a good measuring stick for what the rest of the season may hold. The Bulldogs (9-0 overall, 3-0 GNRC) haven’t had that luxury in recent years, when East Wake and Southeast met late in the conference cycle.
“East Wake is always a good test for us because they’re so big,” Meyers said. “Typically we play them in January and this is our first time in a long time we’ve played them in December. It’s a good test early that will show us what we’re doing well and where we need to step up.”
What the Bulldogs did well against the Warriors was as simple as being themselves. East Wake coach Toni Vick said her team was distracted by the rivalry aspect and what was at stake and forgot to show up early on. By halftime, Southeast had built a 25-14 lead.
“It was just us,” Vick said. “We put so much pressure on ourselves to do well and then we just don’t perform the way we need to. It’s the game – just who we’re playing against.
“They get so hyped up for the game and get overexcited.”
East Wake (8-2, 2-1) turned the ball over a handful of times under pressure as Southeast took a 6-2 lead halfway through the opening stanza. Southeast’s Jade Phillips, who scored eight of her 12 points in the first quarter, went on to force another Warrior turnover and drove the lane for the 10-2 lead before the first quarter ended with Southeast up 13-5.
The Warriors rallied with a 5-point streak, jump-started by a basket by junior Kianna Wynn, to pull within 19-13 with a minute left in the half. But a 3-pointer by Alexus Hicks and free throws by Tiffany McCarter gave the Bulldogs their double-digit lead at the break.
East Wake ended its 16-point third frame on a 6-0 run including a pair of buckets in the paint by Briana Holder. It was the only quarter won by the Warriors, but they still trailed 40-30 to start the fourth.
The third quarter was also the best for Southeast junior Amber Richardson, who went 6-for-8 from the line and got eight of her game-high 18 points.
Richardson and senior Tiffany McCarter (15 points) fed off one another’s presence in the lane throughout the game for the Bulldogs.
“We knew we were smaller than (East Wake), so we knew we had to help out in the post, and that was there,” Meyers said.
Wynn led the Warriors with 14 points and sophomore Angel Rizor chipped in 10.
Vick said it’s back to the drawing board as East Wake prepares to play in a holiday tournament at Corinth Holders.
“I’m definitely going to work on our guards about making better decisions, free throws and just getting into our offense,” Vick said. “And we got beat back a lot on defense and we’ve got to go back to work on that.”