No matter what happened in the classroom earlier in the day, Garner’s boys and Knightdale’s girls passed their tests Tuesday night, a rare exam-week basketball doubleheader.
Garner rolled 87-41 over the Knights, while Knightdale won 80-41 over the Trojans in Greater Neuse River Conference action.
It’s important to remember who Knightdale (11-4, 5-1) has lost to thus far: three of the Triangle’s top four teams (Southeast Raleigh, Millbrook and Heritage) and a 14-1 Jacksonville team. The biggest loss of those was by 11 points.
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That’s keeping the Knights expectant of big things as they turn the page to the second half of the GNRC schedule.
“Those games that we lost, it was just our mental focus,” said senior Melody Prichard. “We could’ve beaten them, it’s just that our mindsets have to be there every time we step on the court.
Buoying the Knights on Tuesday was a solid inside presence and pressing defense. Prichard led all scorers with 21 points while Akira Wiggins added 11 and Rikkai Ferguson had 12 and Zee Bowens 16 off the bench.
“Not to sound like (Clemson football coach) Dabo (Swinney), but I think our girls really love one another. They just click,” Knights coach Trent Bunn said. “They do it wholeheartedly, not for selfish gain, but for each other. And I think that’s what’s getting us to where we are so far.”
Garner (0-9, 0-6) has just nine varsity players as has yet to get its first win of the season.
“It’s a matter of them staying focused and doing what I asked of them. They just lose focus,” said 15th-year coach Hardrick Mays. “We can play well if we come out and play hard at times, but it’s like we get into an already-defeated mode before the game even starts. Hopefully, something will click on and we’ll get it. We play pretty good defense, but we just lose focus”
The Trojans were led by Khayla Guy’s 13 points and Sirena Pitts had nine.
It was the 100th game for Garner senior Alex Reed, who lived up to the moment with a game-high 21 points.
Ironically, it was a game against Knightdale in his freshman year when said he first felt like a full-fledged varsity player.
“We only scored like 40-something points and we got blew out by 30,” Reed said, as coach Eddie Gray joined in to help tell the story.
“And what did I tell the seniors that year?” Gray asked Reed.
“That was their last game and he was starting two freshmen the rest of the way,” Reed said.
“And how many games we win after that?”
“In a row.”
Reed hasn’t been taken out of the lineup yet.
As is normal with Garner (13-2, 6-0), there were plenty of dunks. Trayvon Ferrell, Keion White, Omari Harris and Demetric Horton all rattled the rim. Ferrell scored 19 and Kenyon Burt had 17 for the Trojans. Donovan Evans had 11 points off the bench, including three 3-pointers.
“He’s coming around. He’s instant offense,” Gray said. “He gives us a 3-point threat.”
Knightdale (7-8, 4-2) didn’t score a point in the fourth quarter.
Xavier Fennell had a team-high 13, Aaron Taylor added 10 off the bench and backup center Austin Vernon had six.
“We were kind of too hype and we missed a lot of easy shots at the very beginning and had a lot of unforced turnovers,” Knights coach Anthony Byrd said. “It’s three different seasons and we challenged the guys to come back, get refocused and let’s move forward. This game here is behind us, we have to look forward to those next seven (conference) games.”