Just about every boys’ basketball game in the Two Rivers 3A has been pretty competitive this season, and the pattern held when Corinth Holders hosted Johnston county rival Smithfield-Selma on Friday night.
The girls’ game wasn’t so close.
Jordan Neal and Ra’quan Jones had 15 points apiece, leading three Pirates in double figures as they held on in the second half for a 76-65 victory to avenge an 80-77 defeat back on Dec. 17 in Smithfield.
In the girls’ contest, Shaniya Taylor’s 18 points led three players in double figures as the Pirates doubled the score in a 68-34 romp. Corinth Holders had also exactly doubled the score in their previous meeting, a 46-23 decision on Dec. 17 in Smithfield.
Trio leads Pirate victory
Brian Frazier added 13 points for the Pirates as they improved to 11-8 overall and evened their conference record at 3-3.
“In our league there’s no telling what will happen im any game,” Corinth Holders coach Chris Davis said. “Tonight was as focused as we’ve been all season. (SSS) can score quick, and it was great that we made them have to run against a set defense.”
Malik Frazier, who was carried off the floor with a sprained ankle and did not finish the game, led SSS (10-8, 2-3) with 28 points, followed by Raequan Smith with 13 points and nine rebounds and Josh Raiford 10 points and eight boards.
“They made their free throws and we missed ours,” SSS coach Matt Cuddington said. “I thought we battled back. There’s a lot of balance in the conference. We just need to box out better. We practice it every day, but we’ve got to execute it better.”
The Pirates slowly pulled away in the third quarter, stretching the lead to 61-47 on a Kalen Cooper layup with 6:11 left and never letting the Spartans closer than 10 points thereafter.
“We played really well, and were coming back hard from a loss,” Neal said. “When we get our focus going that’s when we start playing well.”
Added Jones, “We played good. We just have to keep our intensity up. We hit most of our free throws and did what our coach asked us to do.”
Malik Frazier said he was proud of the way his team kept fighting in the fourth quarter.
“We were playing as a team early in the game and our defense was clicking,” Frazier said. “When we didn’t play team ball, that’s when we got in trouble.”
Pirate girls dominate
Samara Gibson added 16 points and Melanie Tola 13 points with eight rebounds and three blocks for the Pirates, who improved to 9-10 overall and 3-3 in conference play.
“We went up 10 at halftime and there was a little too much comfort on our end,” Pirates coach Brandy Smith said. “When we came out in the second half we had a lot of energy. The biggest thing was defensive stops, and our execution was generally good on offense and defense tonight.”
Parker Watson led the Spartans (2-16, 1-4) with 16 points and six rebounds while Logan Lee added 13 points.
“I wish I knew what happened at halftime,” SSS coach Stacy Holland said. “It seems like we have one quarter every game that kills us. We were normally better at defense, but we weren’t tonight. They’re doing a good job, but we just have breakdowns.”
The Pirates led 31-21 at halftime, and then put the game away by going on a 19-5 run in the third.
“We came out with hunger,” said Taylor, who had 14 assists and six steals. “Coach told us we needed to come out with a lot of intensity. Then at halftime she told us we just weren’t playing Corinth basketball and we needed to pick it up.”
Added Gibson, “We did really well in transition. In practice we worked a lot on the fundamentals of defense and we were able to do that well. The main thing we need to do well is just keep our energy up.”
Watson said SSS is improving despite having only seven active players.
“We started out good and were playing hard,” Watson said. “I thought we did a decent job on defense but we just couldn’t deliver on offense.”