After falling into its first slump of the season, the Knightdale boys’ basketball team found the elixir it needed and picked up a vital conference win over Rolesville on Tuesday.
The Knights broke open the game with a late first-half run and cruised to a 72-48 home rout to improve to 5-2 in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference.
“I thought we did a very good job of sharing the basketball for a change. We passed it around and it helped our offense to get going,” said Knightdale head coach Anthony Byrd. “Rolesville is still a young basketball team and still has that learning curve, but it’s good to have a game like this for us because we’ve been struggling a little bit (lately).”
Knightdale was coming of its first instance of back-to-back losses – to Garner and East Wake – of the season.
Both the Knights (11-5) and the Rams (5-12), which have no seniors in their second-year program, entered the game 4-2 in the league alongside East Wake.
Knightdale, nonetheless, was reeling from three losses in its last four games while Rolesville had won three of four. However, it was the more experienced side that dominated the majority of the game and took second place outright in the conference standings.
Rolesville coach Tommy Moore emerged from the locker room dejected after his team’s uninspired effort in arguably the young program’s biggest game ever.
“I was a little disappointed in how we came out; we seemed a little flat,” Moore said. “There were times where we scrapped, but we’ve got to do that for a whole ballgame.”
With the score at 20-18 with four minutes left in the first half, Dondre’ Griffin jump-started an 11-0 run for Knightdale that led to a comfortable 39-25 halftime advantage. The Knights outscored the Rams 20-8 in the third quarter to lead by 26 with one frame to play, then coasted to the 24-point victory.
Griffin led Knightdale with 18 points, while Jordan Shannon scored 12 points off the bench (all in the first half) and Daquan Lilly added 10.
“Some points came easy for a lot of guys. It made it easier for us to just have a little fun,” Byrd said.
No players hit double-digits for Rolesville, with Daimon Rawlinson’s nine points leading the team.
Kavon Galberth came off the bench to draw a number of fouls and score seven points, but fouled out in the final minutes after a minor scuffle along the Knightdale sideline. The Rams’ five starters combined for just 25 points.
“We’re at a point in the season right now where we’re just trying to fine tune some (things),” Moore said. “We honestly felt like maybe we took a little step back tonight.”
After Tuesday’s win, Knightdale entered a stretch of games against many of the GNRC’s lower-ranked teams. Byrd is hopeful that his team can use the coming weeks to begin another hot streak like its 8-1 start to the season.
“We just hope that we’ll continue to build on what happened tonight,” he said. “We’re looking still to compete (for) that top spot in the conference.”