After several days of snow and ice, the rivalry between Leesville Road and Broughton was enough to heat up the Triangle. The Cap-8 Conference foes returned to the hardwood Tuesday night, splitting the varsity contests.
The Pride girls’ basketball team and the Capitals boys continued to rise in the league standings with impressive wins.
Broughton moves up in Cap-8
The Broughton boys’ basketball team came into Tuesday night’s contest with a chance to close the gap with league-leading Millbrook.
The Capitals defeated rival Leesville, 71-66, improving to 6-2 in the league, one game behind the leading Wildcats.
Not thinking of its game against Millbrook on Friday, Broughton focused on taking care of the Pride. The Capitals were able to do so behind a strong performance from sophomore forward Jeremy Robinson.
He fueled Broughton in the first half, scoring 15 points before intermission. Robinson got help from Aaron Gottfried, who scored nine in the opening half, all on 3-pointers.
The Capitals went 19-of-20 from the free throw line.
“We shot some pressure ones,” Broughton coach Jeff Ferrell said.
Coming into the game, the pressure was on both teams who had split their previous two meetings. With this recent win, the Capitals have a 2-1 season series lead over Leesville. They also clutched a firm grip on second place with a big matchup looming on Friday at Holliday Gym. When the final horn sounded, Ferrell and his group could finally shift focus to the Wildcats.
“We can now,” Ferrell joked when asked about looking ahead to Millbrook. “We just talked about that. We have to have two good days of practice to compete with them. They (Millbrook) are playing well right now, so we will have our hands full.”
Leesville had its hands full with the balanced attack from Broughton. Gottfried and Tharon Suggs chipped in with 14 each, while Jack Hemphill added 10. Alex Hunter led the Pride with 21, and Ben Zemonek had 12. Jalen Benjamin and Jonathan Mebane had 10 each for Leesville, who have now dropped two in a row since being tied for first place.
The steadily improving Broughton team has learned a lot since its first showdown with Millbrook, a 60-56 loss.
“We’ve grown up a lot,” Ferrell said. “We hit some lulls in December and some growing pains. Trust me, we’re not out of the woods yet on that. But these guys are starting to figure some things out. I just hope here in the next three weeks we can continue to progress and not regress.”
Pride girls defeat Broughton
Whenever Leesville Road made a mistake on the floor, coach Ben Daniels would say, “We’re OK.”
Against the Caps, the Pride were better than OK.
Leesville improved to 14-3 overall and 6-2 in the Cap-8 with a 61-43 win over Broughton. Not a lot went wrong for the Pride. They scored in transition, in the post, hit outside shots and defended well. On the rare occasion they made a mistake, Daniels would encourage his squad who, more times than not, made up for it on the floor.
“That’s something that we’ve talked a lot about, having mental toughness,” Daniels said. “I was really proud with the way we responded today.”
Leesville never trailed in the contest, going on a pair of runs (9-0, 11-0) in the first quarter, leading 16-6 after one. From that point on, it was just icing on the cake for the Pride, who got a boost in the second quarter from Kelly Funderburk and Lindsey Russ.
The Caps, who only managed one field goal in the first six minutes, hit an early bucket in the second. Funderburk scored five in a row to counter. She was followed by consecutive baskets from Russ to push the Leesville lead to 18, its biggest lead of the half.
“We’re really a good shooting team,” Daniels said. “Despite the second half against Millbrook, we are a very good shooting team. I have a lot of girls who have the green light to shoot.”
That green light led to a team-high 12 points from Funderburk and nine each from Allie Moss and Ashley Gill. Leesville was able to spread the wealth, getting at least three points from 10 different players.
“We believe in having everybody contribute,” Daniels said. “That’s a perfect game from Leesville Road. That’s how we need to play.”
Keonna Jasper led Broughton with 13 and Marcy Waters added 10 for the Caps, who cut it down to nine in the third quarter, but didn’t have enough firepower to get over the hump.
“Shooting was the key,” Broughton coach Brad McCorkle said. “That’s a really skilled team. Both times we’ve played them they shot the ball well. That’s the difference. We had a hard time scoring, they didn’t. That’s pretty much what it boiled down to.”