Garner’s girls earned their first conference victory of the season Thursday night, rallying from a nine-point deficit and holding off Clayton down the stretch for a 64-59 victory.
Garner built an 18-point lead late in the third period but Clayton charged back to pull within five points at 57-52 with 3:14 remaining.
Garner closed the door, however.
Mya Williams hit a bucket to push the margin back to seven. Clayton scored to pull within 59-54, but Khayla Guy scored three straight points to push the margin back up to eight at 62-54 with 29 seconds remaining.
“It feels good,” Garner coach Hardrick Mays said. “It was a good win for the team. We are short-handed (because of injuries). We have a lot of people out. To be able to come together and play like they did, that is a good win for them I am proud of them.”
Clayton (4-6, 1-3 Greater Neuse River 4A Conference) opened up a nine-point lead at 21-12 with 6:21 left in the second quarter but Garner (3-6, 1-3) went on a 16-2 run sparked by Guy and led 37-29 at halftime.
Guy ignited the defense and got the Trojans’ fastbreak going, scoring 18 points in the first half and finishing with a game-high 27.
“We told them that we weren’t going to settle for jump shots anymore, that we were going to play our defense,” Mays said. “If they were going to press us, we were going to press them and keep our feet on the gas. And that is what we did.”
Guy was the catalyst, hitting 3-pointers or driving to the basket for some acrobatic baskets.
“We have been trying to get her rolling for a while,” Mays said. “I think tonight opened the door for her. She’s got speed and quickness and can get where she needs to go.”
For Clayton, it was a case of too many turnovers and not enough defensive pressure, coach Marlon Lee said.
“We did not guard all night,” Lee said. “(Guy) pretty much did what she wanted all night. We did put up a valiant effort coming back. But it was just too many turnovers and getting down by so much so early. We just have to bounce back.”
The Trojans turned things around in the second quarter and built a cushion in the third period. Down 21-12 early in the second period, Garner went on a 16-2 run to take a 28-23 lead.
Using defensive pressure to create turnovers and pushing the ball up the floor, Garner continued to roll in the third period, expanding a 37-29 halftime lead to an 18-point bulge at 53-35 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
They said it
“This could be the turning point that we’ve been looking for,” Garner coach Hardrick Mays said. “We talk about holding each other accountable. I saw a lot of positives tonight because they held each other accountable, telling each other where they needed to be and do your job. This is a great win.”
Three who mattered
Khayla Guy, Garner: The sophomore guard scored a game-high 27 points, including 18 in the first half. Using her quickness to drive to the basket, the left-hander was too much for the Comets to handle on this night.
Nia Jackson, Garner: The senior guard had 12 points, scoring nine of those in the second half.
Asia Todd, Clayton: The freshman guard had a team-high 17 points for the Comets.
By the numbers
14: Points for Clayton sophomore Endaisha Howard.
10: Points for Garner junior Mya Williams.