Isaiah Barnes scored 18 points to lead four players in double figures as Cleveland continued its best boys’ basketball season in its short school history with a knockout punch.
Bobby Stenborg added 16 points, Jaylen Pearce 11, and Donovan Wright 10 as the Rams romped over Corinth Holders 70-49 in a Two Rivers 3A Conference boys basketball battle of Johnston county rivals Friday night.
Cleveland improved to 15-2, 3-0 in conference play, while the Pirates fell to 3-13 and 1-2.
It was the third straight win in the series for the Rams, who are now 6-3 in the five-year rivalry between the schools which opened simultaneously in 2009.
“It takes us a while to get going sometimes,” Cleveland coach John Jacobs said. “But for a few stretches tonight we really played well. When we pick up our defense we’re usually able to get some easy baskets.
“We’re still concerned about free-throw shooting, trying to play smart and cut down on turnovers. When we play really fast on defense, sometimes we’ll be too fast on offense. But this was a good win.”
Matt Minga led the Pirates with 11 points.
“Turnovers were the problem,” Corinth Holders coach Chris Davis said. “And we had a lack of control of our fundamental skills. Ball-faking and bounce passes stopped happening. We didn’t move where we were supposed to.
“Early in the game we were moving to the right spots and got some good stuff out of it. But we had a lot of nerves and reverted back to some bad habits. You’ve got to be committed to be successful.”
The Pirates stayed competitive through the first half. It was 12-12 after the first period before Barnes gave the Rams the lead for good with 7:50 left in the half.
“We played pretty good,” Barnes said. “We got a lot of points in transition and that was definitely the difference in the game. We have multiple scorers, a lot of people who can get double digits any night.”
The Pirates trailed only 26-23 following a Matt Johnson 3-pointer with 1:18 left in the half.
But the Rams scored the last six points of the second period and then the first 10 of the second half to stretch the advantage to 42-23.
“We just had to turn up the tempo,” Stenborg said. “We came out a little scared for some reason and weren’t playing hard, so we had to make sure we put them away in the second half.”
The Rams’ biggest lead was 70-38 on a John Lopp layup with 2:45 remaining. Bench players for Corinth Holders scored 11 straight points to end the contest.
The rematch is Feb. 6 in Wendell.
Corinth Holders hosts Smithfield-Selma on Friday, while Cleveland travels to South Johnston the same night.