With just over two weeks left in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference regular season, Knightdale’s girls and Rolesville’s boys took nice steps to stay near the top of the league standings Tuesday night.
The Knights (14-4, 8-1) stayed within striking distance of the first-place and top-ranked Southeast Raleigh girls with a strong second half that produced a 58-44 win.
Rolesville’s boys (9-8, 6-2) displayed the intensity and focus veteran coach Tommy Moore said the team needs to have and pulled away to take its 78-54 win. It also put the Rams over the .500 mark for the first time this season, a good sign going down the stretch run. The win also gave the Rams a split this season with Knightdale.
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Rolesville junior guard Ricky Clemons entered the game needing 8 points to reach the 1,000 point mark for his career – the first Rolesville player to do so. He did that in a hurry on a free throw with 4:35 left in the first quarter. He went on to score 27 in the game.
“Ricky is crafty, he finds a way to score,” Moore said of Clemons, who has started since his freshman year. “He hits free throws, can penetrate, and shoots the ball. He does it all.”
He was joined in double figures by 6-4 senior Jamaal Farrar, who also averages in double figures, with 13 points.
“We’ve been up and down this year, but I was pleased with the effort in this game,” Moore said. “Offensively, we’ve had different guys step up at different times. Israel Lockamy, Jaylin Parker, Messiah Harvin-Cleveland, and others have all had very good minutes for us.”
The Rams led 36-33 at halftime, but outscored Knightdale (8-9, 5-4) 42-21 in the second half.
“For staying near the top of the standings, I thought before the game this might be our biggest game of the season,” Knightdale coach Anthony Byrd said. “It was a big win for them and a devastating loss for us. The second half they got too much penetration from the top, that was the game.”
Juniors Xavier Fennell (12 ponts) and Tavion Taylor (11) led the Knights in scoring.
“We’ve had a lot of balance this year, with guys like Tavion, Xavier, Tristian Davis, Majesty Wilder, and Shayne Sagio playing well,” Byrd said. “I was expecting a better year, but there’s still time to get better if we play with more intensity and show more patience on offense.”
Rolesville’s girls got off to a hot start, but Knightdale senior Melody Prichard knew her team could bounce back.
Rolesville (11-7, 5-3) led 21-8 in the second period and 25-14 at halftime. But the Knights’ defense was the story of the second half.
“We dug deep and pulled it out,” said Prichard, who scored 27 for the winners. “We get it going with defense and that starts our offense.”
Defense and a strong group of seniors, Prichard, Jessica Parker, Alexis Ingram, and Zee Bowens, have keyed this year’s team success, according to fourth-year coach Trent Bunn.
“In this game, I didn’t have to say anything at halftime. The senior girls did all the talking. ... They love one another, play for each other. Every play they make is for somebody else,” Bunn said.
Rolesville coach Clinton Williams knew he had a pair of strong seniors in Elon recruit Jaylin Powell and Morgan Brown. He wanted to challenge this team with strong non-conference schedule to go along with the strong GRNC competition.
“All of our losses have come to teams in the top-9 in the N&O poll,” Williams said. Knightdale just turned it up in the second half and we ran out of gas.”
Powell is a four-year starter.
“There’s a lot on her shoulders,” Williams said. “She has to rebound for us, she handles the ball sometimes and is a fixture on offense.”