In two important basketball games in the Eastern Plains Independent Conference, the St. David’s Warriors took two big wins against Grace Christian Raleigh.
The St. David’s boys, ranked seventh in The N&O area rankings, crushed the Eagles 79-36 while the girls edged Grace 50-46.
Warrior boys explode in the third
St. David’s boys basketball coach Will Coley wanted his team to prove they could play a full 32 minutes to finish teams. Turns out they didn’t even need that long versus Grace.
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A third quarter explosion by the Warriors was enough to break open a tight game with the Eagles.
With a variety of 3s, drives to the baskets and the occasional dunk, the Warriors took the suspense out of the game shortly after the break.
“We’ve just been talking about finishing,” Coley said. “For us, that’s probably one of our top goals, just being able to focus and put together 32 minutes.”
St. David’s led 41-25 at halftime in a contest that felt a lot closer. Led by Kris Monroe, who hit three consecutive triples, and Robbie O’Han, who did a little bit of everything, St. David’s cruised.
“We just focused in the locker room on coming out (and playing) hard,” O’Han said. “We just focused on the first five minutes playing as hard as we could. We focused on pressure because we felt like we could take take it from their ball handlers. We were able to play fast like we do, and get up to that 30-point lead. It was all about effort tonight.”
O’Han, who had 19 at halftime, finished with 26. Monroe added 27 for the Warriors, including 14 in the third quarter. Oslbey Mercer and Nolan Lory led Grace with 9 points each.
Birthday girl leads St. David’s
With three minutes remaining and an eight point lead, St. David’s girls basketball coach Alan Hinnant told his team they didn’t need points. He was halfway right. They needed stops more than buckets, but a few extra points didn’t hurt. The Warriors got both in the final stretch, holding off Grace Christian 50-46.
Leading by double-digits majority of the second half, St. David’s saw Grace cut into that deficit several times. Each time, the Warriors got a crucial bucket to keep the visitors at bay, mostly coming from birthday girl Tiffany Bartholomew, who led the way with a team-high 23 points.
“We tried to run the clock, but did a poor job of it to be honest with you,” Hinnant said. “We knew they had to foul us … we knock down free throws and the game is over. Instead we’re attacking the basket and turning the ball over, giving them extra possessions.”
Grace was able, for the most part, to take advantage of those extra touches, staying within striking distance late in the game.
St. David was able to build a double-digit halftime lead thanks to strong second quarter. The Warriors outscored the Eagles 14-8. Bartholomew scored 11 first-half points to set the pace for St. David’s. She outdueled Grace center Carol Anne-Obusek who had 10 at the break.
Bartholomew and Obusek, who finished with a game-high 26, traded baskets in the final few minutes to make it interesting. Obusek pulled her team to within six, 48-42, with an old-fashioned three-point play. But Bartholomew countered on the other end with a bucket of her own, putting the final nail in the coffin.
“I knew if we did the things we were supposed to do, manage the game correctly, the game would be out of hand,” Hinnant said. “We’re getting there.”