Tuesday’s 87-41 win against Knightdale was the 100th game for Garner senior Alex Reed. Coincidentally, it was a game against Knightdale in his freshman year when he 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, remembering the 72-41 loss. 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.
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The move paid off.
The Trojans went on a 12-game winning streak after Reed and Thomas Allen moved into the starting lineup. A year later, they were 4A champs and the next year 4A semifinalists.
They said it
“Not to sound like (Clemson football coach) Dabo (Swinney), but I think our girls really love one another. They just click. ... 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.” – Knightdale girls coach Trent Bunn.
“Both teams played their freaking guts out. ... We had some guys get in foul trouble that we’d normally have on the floor, but we had two sophomores on the floor at the end of the game. I can’t ask any more of our guys. They played their guts out.” – South Johnston boys coach Brody Massengill after a 47-43 loss to Corinth Holders.
“Making free throws would alleviate some of that pressure at the end of the game. Some nights, we make a lot of them. Some nights, we don’t.” – Corinth Holders boys coach Chris Davis.
“It was frustrating to have a great girls basketball matchup and neither team was allowed to have any type of continuity. In these types of games, you would hope that they would just let them play. I don’t think anyone got a real feel for what that game could have been.” – Southeast Raleigh girls coach Nicole Meyers after beating N&O No. 1 Hillside.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs as a team this year. Just a lot of adversity. But this was one of those games where it just felt like everything clicked. We had some of the flow that we’ve been looking for and we were able to finish and knock down shots. That’s been one of our issues this year.” – Corinth Holders girls coach Shannon Lee.
“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.” – Garner girls coach Hardrick Mays.
The Starting 5
Five standouts from the past week.
Talia Barnes, Jordan: Scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Monday’s 69-49 win over Holly Springs.
Lauren Callihan, Cary Academy: The senior, who passed the 1,000-point mark this year, had 21 on Tuesday in a 53-43 win against Wake Christian.
Elisia Grissett, Hillside: Had 30 points in a 67-63 loss to Southeast Raleigh.
McKenna Kersat, Neuse Charter: Had a whopping 27 rebounds in last week’s win over Rosewood.
Jada McMillian, Southeast Raleigh: Had 19 points to help the N&O No. 2 Bulldogs take down No. 1 Hillside 67-63 on Monday.
Jason Barnes, Jordan: Hit the game winner with 1.9 seconds left to defeat Holly Springs 46-45.
Alex Reed, Garner: Scored 21 in a Tuesday win over Knightdale.
Trey Murphy, Cary Academy: Fired in 31 points in a 69-47 win over Wake Christian on Tuesday.
Messiah Pankey, Grace Christian Raleigh: Had 25 points against his old school, Trinity Academy Raleigh, in a 78-69 Tuesday win.
Matt Yager, Trinity Academy Raleigh: Poured in 35 points in a 78-69 loss to Grace Christian Raleigh.
A quick look at schools’ boys and girls teams, together.
Apex: Both Cougars teams may have met rival Cary for the last time in the present-day gymnasium, and both won on Friday. The girls (10-5, 6-2 Southwest Wake 4A) seem to be turning the corner under first-year coach Charlie Michael, who said, “I think the biggest thing that I learned is that we can handle pressure” after an overtime win against Cary.
The Apex boys (8-6, 6-2) didn’t play in a holiday tournament, so last Friday’s game against Cary was the first time it had played in 3 1/2 weeks. The return of point guard Carl Dean, who was out with injury, helped the Cougars break the 70-point mark for the first time this year. Dean ran the offense and the Cougars ended the night with 11 3-pointers.
“It’s the proudest I’ve been of them all year,” coach David Neal said.
Cary: The girls (10-6, 7-3 Southwest Wake 4A) are still atop the conference by a half-game despite an overtime loss to Apex last week. The boys (9-7, 6-3) suffered back-to-back losses but are hoping to get a boost with the expected return of center Phillip Blackley, who was injured in the John Wall Holiday Invitational.
Garner: The Trojans girls (0-9, 0-6 Greater Neuse 4A) have just nine varsity players this season and are hoping their defense will pay off with a first win soon. The boys (13-2, 6-0) – who shut out Knightdale in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s win – seem to be adding a new weapon with the improved outside shooting of Donovan Evans.
“He’s coming around. He’s instant offense,” Gray said. “He gives us a 3-point threat.”
Knightdale: The boys (7-8, 4-2 Greater Neuse 4A) have depth but are hoping to find the right combination as the league schedule reaches the second half. The girls (11-4, 5-1) have lost to 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.
“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.
David Justice, Randy Capps, Joe Johnson and Eric Puskar contributed.