Coming off a low-scoring loss to Broughton, the Sanderson boys basketball team rebounded with a resounding win over Cap-8 Conference foe Enloe 68-50. Meanwhile the Enloe girls recorded their first victory of the season by defeating the Spartans 65-50.
Both boys teams played a close first half, and the Spartans (9-5, 2-3) took a 29-24 lead into the break. Although Sanderson was the taller and more dominant team, the Eagles (2-11, 1-4) kept fighting back.
A Marcus Harris alley oop layup cut the deficit to three at one point, but Sanderson’s Taj Thompson immediately responded with an and-one drive into the lane. Thompson kept the offense flowing during the game and also paced Sanderson with 24 points.
“He’s kind of our go-to guy and we rely on him for a lot: handling the ball, scoring, leadership, everything,” said Sanderson coach Mike Shaw.
Though it looked to be either team’s game in the second half, the Spartans showed a lot of energy early in the third quarter and grabbed the momentum.
In one sequence, Antonio Freeman grabbed a defensive rebound and raced down the court leading the break. He passed it off, got the ball back and laid it in. Not 10 seconds later, a trap around midcourt led to an easy Rick Prim layup, pushing Sanderson’s lead to 12 just two minutes into the half.
“Once you get down to a good team, they’re up 10 or 12 and you got to chase to get back,” said Enloe coach Patrick Paye. “Once you get back, you kind of relax and they go on another run.”
Paye’s analysis described a lot of the ebbs and flows of the second half. Despite small spurts by Enloe – including a 7-0 run later in the third quarter – the Spartans would always come back with scores of their own.
Often it was Thompson finding his way to the free throw line, but Freeman also played a big role. The big man scored 13 points and showed a lot of energy during rebounds, running the floor and jumping in front of passing lanes.
Victor Chambers led Enloe with 12 points, while Nasheem Wilkins and Tyler Green each added nine.
Prior to the boys game, there was a long-awaited celebration for the Enloe girls.
“We’ve been working all season trying to get this win,” said Enloe coach Nikita Warren. “A lot of close games but we could never finish. Tonight, the team played together and we were able to share the ball.”
The game was sloppy for both the Eagles (1-12, 1-4) and the Spartans (1-9, 1-4), but Enloe’s Brianna Lee was a bright spot throughout the game.
Lee, who Warren called the heart of the team, led all scorers with 24 points and could not be stopped in the paint. Her teammates deserve a lot of credit, though, as time and time again the Eagles did a good job driving and passing to Lee close to the rim and she continuously converted.
The turning point in the game came in the second quarter after a tight first. Enloe outscored Sanderson 20-11 in the second largely on the backs of Lee and Biance’ Wilder. Lee and Wilder combined for 18 of the 20 points, and this propelled Enloe into halftime with an eight-point lead.
Taylor Piggott got into the action more in the second half, scoring 14 points total, as the Eagles continued to score.
But their defense was just as important. Sanderson often rushed shots and passes in an attempt to catch up, and those led to fast breaks or turnovers. Lauren Prakke did her best to keep Sanderson in it, leading her team with 12 points, but Enloe was too good.
“Our biggest motto is, ‘We’re ready to eat,’ so tonight we’re like, ‘We smell it! We smell it!’ But we can’t eat yet or celebrate,” Warren said. “I’m just happy. It’s about time.”