It was a tale of two halves Tuesday night between Knightdale and Sanderson.
The Knights did nearly everything right in the second half – outscoring Sanderson 49-40 – but they could not overcome a 16-point deficit from the first half. Sanderson coach Mike Shaw said his team played inspired with all of their starters back at full strength.
“We played very together in the first half and that carried us in this game,” Shaw said. “We were missing a big piece of our puzzle in Parker Fennemma, and with him healthy and scoring (it) just gives us a lift.
“We didn’t close as well as we wanted to, and it wasn’t as pretty as we wanted it to be, but it was a win.”
Fennemma’s 14 points didn’t lead the team, but his shooting ability added another threat for the Spartans.
Reggie Traywick finished with 29 points for Sanderson (3-3) to tie Ronshad Allen-Shabazz of Knightdale (5-3) to lead all scorers.
“I think Reggie Traywick really stepped up tonight,” Shaw said. “I think he played the best game of his career. Our entire team loves to see him do well because he is such a team player.”
Unselfish play from the Spartans led to a dominating first quarter that resulted in a 20-8 lead. Sanderson had five different players score in the quarter, including guards Will Judy and Joel Rosen from the outside.
In the second quarter, Traywick took over for the Spartans. Traywick scored 12 of his 29 points in the quarter as Sanderson ran out to a 42-26 lead at the half.
Traywick scored two points on free throws after a technical foul was called on Knightdale coach Battle Watkins with 1 minute, 57 seconds remaining in the second quarter, making the score 40-18. But Knightdale fought back to tighten the score thanks to an 8-2 run to close the half.
“We just got outplayed in the first half and couldn’t recover,” Watkins said. “We played well in the last two games, come home as somewhat of a warm-up before conference play and had a chance to expand on some things we’ve been working on. We didn’t do any of that in the first half.”
Knightdale came out with more fight in the second half, matching Sanderson on the offensive end, but could not shut down the Sanderson scoring onslaught.
The two teams traded blows throughout the third quarter, but Sanderson held tight to a 60-46 lead heading into the final quarter.
Allen-Shabazz scored 12 points alone in the third quarter, but Watkins said he wanted to see more output from other players on the court.
“Sometimes when you’re down, your best scorer feels like he has to do it all,” Watkins said. “He took several shots without distributing the ball, and that’s just not good basketball. We had a lot of guys just standing around watching him.”
The Knights continued to show the same intensity in the fourth quarter and got as close as five with 1:03 remaining, but the wing play of Sanderson continued to control the pace of the game. Traywick went 7-for-8 down the stretch for the Knights.
With a winning record heading into conference play, the Knights will look to improve on both ends of the court, but Watkins said his team can take a lot away from the loss to Sanderson.
“It’s our job to get intensity out of our players at the beginning of games and we will work towards that in practice,” Watkins said. “If we can do that, it will be easier for us to get our offense going. We’ve made some progress over the last two weeks and took a step back tonight.”