Defending state champion Garner opened its conference season with a fast start and never looked back against rival Southeast Raleigh on Tuesday night.
With a packed house watching, the Trojans scored the first 12 points and never trailed in the Greater Neuse River 4A opener for both teams – posting a 73-51 victory.
Junior forward Alex Reed (17 points) and junior guard Thomas Allen (16) led the way for the Trojans, forming a potent inside-outside combination.
“Alex Reed played an exceptional game,” Garner coach Eddie Gray said. “We expect a lot out of those two because they are returning starters. Between them and (senior guard) Nick Kuhns (13 points), we put a lot of emphasis on them playing well every night.”
Garner, ranked No. 3 in The N&O poll, improved to 6-1. Southeast Raleigh, ranked No. 14, dropped to 5-1.
Garner led 16-5 at the end of the first quarter and was ahead 31-16 at halftime.
Southeast Raleigh, which was led by Malik Bullock with 14 points, never got the lead below 10 points after the first quarter.
Garner turned up the heat in the third to erase any doubt, pushing the margin to more than 20 points and led 49-30 entering the fourth quarter.
“In the second half, we didn’t play real well at the start but then we went to a pressure defense and that changed the pace of the game and we sort of got a cushion there,” Gray said.
The first five minutes of the game set the tone. The Trojans jumped ahead 12-0, mixing outside shots and fast-break baskets with and an inside bucket from Reed. Southeast Raleigh was ice cold. The Bulldogs did not score for the first five minutes, getting their first point on a free throw with 2 minutes, 53 seconds left in the quarter.
They said it
“It was a very, very intense game, probably the biggest crowd I can remember on a Tuesday night,” Gray said. “It’s always an emotional game when we play Southeast Raleigh. A lot of these guys have never been involved in a Southeast Raleigh game. I was real pleased with everybody’s play. It’s a good way to start the conference season.”
Three who mattered
Garner’s Alex Reed: The junior forward led the Trojans with 17 points, using his muscle inside and also stepping outside to sink a 3-pointer late in the game.
Garner’s Thomas Allen: The junior added 16 points from his point guard position, running the Trojans’ fast-paced offense and playing excellent defense on the perimeter.
Southeast Raleigh’s Malik Bullock: The senior guard led the Bulldogs with 14 points.