Last weekend’s winter weather wreaked havoc on the school calendar, and the practice schedules of high school basketball teams.
Both Wake and Johnston County Schools were off until Thursday, which means that the game was the first time any of the teams had been together for a week.
Southeast Raleigh fought through the rust to pick up a pair of Greater Neuse River 4A Conference wins at Clayton Thursday night, with the girls taking a 61-20 win followed by a 56-50 triumph for the Bulldogs in the nightcap.
On paper, it was a clash between two teams ranked in The News and Observer’s Top 25, with No. 2 Southeast Raleigh looking to preserve its unbeaten record against the No. 22 Comets.
On the hardwood, it turned out to be a runaway.
Clayton held the ball for much of the first quarter in an effort to keep the pace down, but the Bulldogs (14-0, 5-0) managed to scratch out a few points in the opening period to take a 4-0 lead.
“I think they showed some poise,” Southeast Raleigh coach Nicole Meyers said. “Clayton did a good job taking us out of our comfort zone initially, but I think our defensive intensity stepped up to make them make some rushed decisions. That gave us some transition baskets and got us going.”
While Southeast Raleigh took advantage of the faster pace to put up 20 points in the second quarter, all the Comets (10-5, 2-3) could manage was a pair of free throws from Asia Todd en route to a 24-2 halftime deficit.
The Bulldogs, after finding their rhythm, pulled away in the second half for an easy win.
“We hadn’t had practice since (last) Thursday,” Meyers said. “I really was not expecting them to play as clean as they did. I was expecting them to be a little more out of sync. … They played together. Everybody came in a contributed something, and that’s what we’re going to need as we get to playoff season.”
Southeast Raleigh had only one player in double figures (Jada McMillian with 11), but wound up with 11 different players on the score sheet. Tamia Hicks and Destini Abramson-Lee each had eight points on the night to back McMillian.
Asia Todd finished with 11 points for the Comets.
The block/charge call is one of the toughest in basketball for officials to make — and one of the most important.
It’s often the difference between a turnover and free throws, and for Southeast Raleigh, a couple of late blocking calls on Clayton helped spark a late run that secured a conference win.
“We had a lot of self-inflicted mistakes that hurt us,” Clayton coach Denny Medlin said. “I thought we took a couple of charges down the stretch that didn’t go our way. Those things make a difference.”
Trailing 50-49 with just over two minutes left, Southeast Raleigh’s Ahmad Waldron drew one of those blocking fouls and the ensuing free throws started a 7-0 run over the last 2:09 that helped the Bulldogs (5-9, 3-2) pick up the win.
“I was proud of them, after the layoff and the weather, for the way they responded,” Southeast Raleigh coach James Williams said. “We got down a couple of times, but we fought back and got back into the game. It’s hard (after a layoff). “If they’re anything like me, I was on the couch. They said they got out and shot a little bit, but it’s difficult to have this much time off and then come back against a good coach and a good team like Clayton.”
The Comets (8-6, 3-2) had to play most of the game without guard E.J. Bradshaw, who left in the first quarter with a left knee injury. Devin Carter led all scorers with 20 points, while Kenny Anderson and MaCaleb Robertson added nine and eight points, respectively, for Clayton.
Waldron paced the Bulldogs with 12 points while Ericson Loveless (11) and Sherman McLeod (10) also finished in double figures.