Once they had solidified their soccer futures, Fuquay-Varina senior Rebekah Furr and junior Kelley Suggs decided it was time to return to the hardwood this winter.
And no one benefited more than the Bengals.
Furr and Suggs showed no rust after taking a year off from girls basketball, nor any kinks in working with their Fuquay-Varina teammates as they rolled over Harnett Central 56-22 on Wednesday night to improve to 2-0 on the season.
“They’re successful on the soccer field and they know what it feels to win. They’re leading already. They may not have been with us last year but our team has welcomed them with open arms and they know that they’re going to push us and make us more competitive,” Fuquay-Varina coach Gail Siemer said.
Furr and Suggs have both committed to play Division I soccer. In Tuesday’s game, Furr hit four of her first five 3-pointers to score 12 points. Suggs had five points, two steals and five assists.
“It was fun coming back out and playing,” Furr said. “I was really, really nervous before the game, so coming out and having that kind of start really calmed me down.”
The Bengals scored more points than in any game last season.
Fuquay has hovered at the bottom of the conference standings for most of the last decade, but there is more reason for optimism than just the soccer stars’ contributions. Returner Lakeia Jones scored a career-high 17 points, showing off some added shooting range, to go along with four rebounds and four steals.
“Everyone’s really motivated. We want a good season, we want to step it up from the past years where we weren’t so good and make us a better team,” Suggs said.
In two games, Fuquay-Varina has dramatically cut down its turnovers and raised its shooting percentage from a year ago.
“We got in the gym a lot this (off)season,” Siemer said. “Hopefully we can continue the trend of keeping (the turnovers) down.”
Harnett Central (0-1) was led by Madison Turlington’s seven points and six rebounds. First-year head coach Chelsey Cabe said Fuquay’s ability to make shots – the Bengals shot 55.2 percent in the first half and 43.4 for the game – kept the pressure on the Trojans, who couldn’t keep up the pace.
“I think offensively, if we had made layups in the first half, it could have been a much different ball game,” Cabe said. “But you can’t take away that they shot the ball well also.
“We need to improve on everything.”
Harnett Central boys down Fuquay
In the boys basketball game, Harnett Central junior Anthony Staton provided enough offense by himself to give the Bengals (0-2) fits en route to the Trojans’ season-opening 68-58 win. The guard had 25 points on the night, shooting four-of-six from 3-point land.
“He’s a third-year starter,” Harnett Central coach Will Gage said. “He’s really worked hard on picking up on other parts of his game other than scoring, and he can score in a variety of ways.”
After being down 22-20 late in the second quarter, Staton scored 14 of the Trojans’ last 16 points to take a 35-30 lead. It was the first time either team had gotten into the flow of the game. There were 33 fouls called and both teams combined to shoot 35 free throws in the first half.
“It was just a tough game. We never really got into the game, offensively or defensively,” second-year Fuquay coach Danny Strong said.
The Bengals went cold late to allow the Trojans to pull away.
Grant Youngblood’s team-high 15 points were followed by Trey Terry (12) and Taylor Layton (11). Amani Gill had a team-high six rebounds while Youngblood added four assists.
“We’re still a little way off from finding our complete (starting) five,” Strong said. “We’ve got some football players coming in... They’re going to be a big part of our process.”
Central’s Jay McNeill (12 points, six assists), Johnathan Smith (nine points, eight rebounds) and Moashaun Bristow (eight points, five steals) also stepped up for the Trojans.
“What we feel like we have this year that we haven’t had in the past is ... our quality depth. We can bring people in and not lose a whole lot talent-wise,” Gage said.