Garner dominated every aspect of the game from the opening tip Tuesday, en route to an 83-32 win at West Johnston High School.
Three Trojans finished in double-figures, while 13 different players found their way into the scoring column. Alex Reed led the way with 12, Jashaun Smith added 11, Davon Newton poured in 10 and Parrish Tinsley and Thomas Allen each had seven.
“We’re proud that our team has balanced scoring,” Garner coach Eddie Gray said. “We really don’t have a superstar, and we’re glad our guys are unselfish. With a lot of different scorers, we can rely on different people when one guy has a bad night.”
All was working against the Wildcats, including a suffocating defense.
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Garner (8-0, 2-0 Greater Neuse River) forced turnover after turnover in the half court, which led to easy fast-break baskets. After closing out the first quarter with a 13-point lead, the Trojans outscored West Johnston 31-3 in the second quarter to take a 60-19 advantage into halftime.
“We’re working hard on getting better at our trapping defense,” Gray said. “And we’re running some zone. We’re not quite doing it correctly, but in games like these we’re really trying to work on it and get better. We rely on steals to get our offense going. We want to play fast.”
Garner’s pace was definitely an issue for the Wildcats.
“Garner plays with a speed we can’t even simulate in practice,” West Johnston coach Kris Bennett said.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, Gray also wanted to see his team cut down on turnovers even as he emptied his bench.
“I’m glad I could get some guys who don’t always play a lot into the game,” he said. “We have three games this week and we need to use these type of games to learn to cut down on mistakes.”
The clock ran continuously in the second half, which kept the scoring down. Garner still outscored the Wildcats in both the third and fourth quarters, but managed just 23 total points in the reduced time.
This was third game this season that the Trojans’ lead was so great that the running clock was used in the second half.
As dominant as Garner has been so far season, Gray is still expecting improvement given the youth and lack of experience in his group. Only one senior gets significant playing time.
“We’re young,” Gray said. “But we have some talent. We just have to keep getting better.”
Trojans guard Julius Barnes, the afore mentioned senior, agrees with his coach that the team has work to do if it wants to achieve something momentous this season.
“We can be so much better,” Barnes said. “We have to be more disciplined. Sometimes we show up and a team hits us first and we struggle to get going. A lot of our guys haven’t been there before, so they need to work hard and take practice seriously so we can get better.”
For West Johnston (0-8, 0-2) this season has been the opposite of Garner’s, but Bennett was pleased with his team’s energy early on Tuesday.
“We played hard in the first quarter,” he said. “But Garner’s athleticism and good shooting just killed us.”
And even in a lopsided defeat, the coach could find evidence of improvement.
“We took good shots,” Bennett said. “We just missed a lot of them. The last couple of games, though, we have played harder.”