Admittedly, Khalil Barnett was worried. The Cedar Ridge boys basketball team lost two games to open the year, and he and his teammates knew a good performance against Carrboro on Friday was needed.
They delivered. Led by Barnett’s 22-point effort, the Red Wolves (1-2) defeated Carrboro (0-5) with ease, winning 65-36. Nine different players scored for Cedar Ridge, which showcased its depth and unselfishness in the victory.
“This game tonight was a very important one, and we needed that to boost our confidence a little bit,” Barnett said.
Earlier on in the evening, the Cedar Ridge girls (1-2) also picked up their first win of the season with a 62-47 win over previously unbeaten Carrboro (4-1) as point guard Carrie Davis (18) and power forward Yolando Simpson (15) each scored in double-figures for the Red Wolves.
From Clay Jones’ point of view, the night couldn’t have gone much better for Cedar Ridge. For one, the Red Wolves’ coach got to see his players celebrate a win for the first time this year, while Barnett – one of his veteran leaders – put on a scoring clinic.
“It was a good effort from top to bottom,” Jones said. “We had gotten off to a slow start in our first two games, and our focus was to get the funk off of us in the first half.”
With Barnett leading the charge, Cedar Ridge set the tempo early on against Carrboro, and played an aggressive brand of basketball to jump out to a 23-point halftime lead.
The only three-year varsity player on Cedar Ridge’s roster, Barnett was able to run the floor well in transition – which the Red Wolves did a lot of – while also showing his ability to be dangerous with his jump shot.
“He’s one of our versatile players,” Jones said. We ask a lot of him, and he’s very coachable player, so he does a very good job with that.”
In addition to Barnett’s quality performance, center Colby Cashaw (15) and point guard Mekai Collins (10) also scored in double-digits.
For Carrboro, the loss is its fifth consecutive to begin the season. Coach Justin Batts said his players are understandably disappointed with the start to their year, but he maintained that they need to use that frustration as a way to improve.
“Obviously they’re down about where we’re at, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to have guys who want to get better,” Batts said.
Shooting guard Jared Porter scored 10 points in the loss for the Jaguars.
Cedar Ridge coach Felton Page wasn’t concerned about his team going winless in its first two games, but even he said it was important for the Red Wolves to get win number one against the Jaguars.
“It’s very important. We haven’t played particularly bad,” Page said. “We just hadn’t been able to turn turnovers into points, and we missed a lot of free throws.”
Leading up to the game against Carrboro, Page knew it would be crucial for his post players to perform at a high level in order for the Red Wolves to be successful. As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened.
Complementing Simpson’s good outing, center Grace Davies and power forward Miracle Page combined to score 18 points, which helped Cedar Ridge make up for an unusually quiet first quarter from Davis.
However, Davis came alive in the second quarter, and she extended Cedar Ridge’s lead to four with a three-pointer right at the buzzer before halftime. Davis scored 13 points in the second half as the Red Wolves strengthened their advantage.
“Our post players had to step up, and I think they did that tonight,” Page said. “We got a lot of production from the post, as well as Carrie. She’s our leader. When we’re in tough times, we look to her. She pulled it out tonight for us.”
Carrboro was led in scoring by senior shooting guard Grace Nanney, who scored all 19 of her points in the second half.