Like Angelo Dundee in the ear of Muhammad Ali, Greyson Kelley’s teammates convinced him he was unstoppable.
On the floor against Wake Christian Academy Tuesday night, the North Raleigh Christian Academy senior played like it. Thanks to a variety of strong drives, three-point baskets and pretty much anything he had in his offensive repertoire, Kelley led the Knights boys’ basketball team to a 84-63 win over the Bulldogs with a career-high 34 points.
“My coaches and teammates trusted me,” Kelley said. “They told me whenever I get the ball to attack because they can’t guard me.”
Kelley didn’t waist anytime, bullying his way to the hoop for a layup while drawing a foul on the first play of the game. It was the first of four old-fashioned, three-point plays he would have on the evening.
“It just got me in a groove,” Kelley said.
The senior utility player had 16 points by halftime, as the Knights (5-8, 1-0) held an 11-point advantage. Kelley got plenty of help from teammate Colton Lee, who contributed with 21 points.
“We knew that Greyson would have a big game, he’s been working hard,” NRCA coach Eddie Rogosich said. “We’re expecting Colton to make shots, and he did it tonight. That made things easier for us.”
The fact that the Knights never trailed also made things easier. Wake Christian (5-8, 0-1) pulled to within three, 29-26, midway through the second quarter, but NRCA guard Sam Okaura went on a personal run, scoring seven in a row to give his team some distance. Okaura finished with 13 points off the bench for the Knights, who held a double-digit lead the entire second half.
Rob Whitfield led the Bulldogs with 29 points, while Jon Kirkpatrick added 17. However, that duo alone had no answer for Kelley, Lee and the rest of NRCA, which, as a team, knocked down seven3-pointers.
“It was great to hit shots early and get that early lead, get the momentum,” Rogosich said. “We fed off the crowd from the beginning and really got it going.”
Nobody more than Kelley, who said his shot “felt great” all night.
“I felt like I couldn’t miss at all,” he said. “My teammates tell me all the time that nobody can stop me and I just had that mentality.”
Wake Christian girls pick up second win of year
Behind a fury of points in less than one minute in the opening quarter, Wake Christian Academy girls’ basketball was able to get its second win of the season with a 46-31 victory over North Raleigh Christian Academy Tuesday night.
The Bulldogs scored 11 in a row, all off turnovers, in the opening quarter to get instant separation. Wake Christian never left the offensive end of the court, pressuring the Knights as soon as they got inbounds, which led to easy layups and jump shots.
That gave the visitors an eight-point advantage, but more importantly, confidence going the rest of the way.
“It was off the press,” Wake Christian coach Randy Johnson said. “We were fortunate enough to get them rattled a little bit. We got some steals, got some layups, and when you get momentum going it’s just hard to stop. That springboarded us to the lead we needed to finish out.”
NRCA (0-8, 0-1) cut the deficit to one, but the Bulldogs (2-4, 1-0) again relied on their defense, scoring five consecutive points off of turnovers.
“That’s huge,” Johnson said about converting turnovers into easy points. “The first four games we were averaging 35 turnovers, so I know other teams were scoring off our turnovers, so we try to really focus on creating turnovers and capitalizing on them ourselves.”
Grace Bunn and Emma Stout led the Bulldogs with 12 points each. Elizabeth Hare added eight. The Knights were led by Emma Finster with nine.