Entering Tuesday night’s Two Rivers 3A Conference contest at home against Corinth Holders, the South Johnston girls basketball team found itself in fourth place in the standings having dropped four of its first six conference clashes.
With little margin for error allowed for the Trojans to make a run at the postseason, South Johnston was finally able to do a lot of the ‘little things’ right en route to a big 51-45 win over the Pirates.
“I’m just proud of them for doing the little things that we talk about every day,” South Johnston coach Ronda Langdon Johnson said. “Every time the shot went up, we at least had a couple of girls in there fighting for it, we tried to cut the middle off, we tried to make good clean passes and we tried to protect the ball when we had it.”
After falling behind by seven points early in the first half, the Trojans began to show patience on the offensive side of the court, often finding McKinley Johnson and Anna Webster for open looks from three-point range.
The sharp-shooting duo keyed a 13-2 run in the second quarter to help South Johnston (13-7, 3-4) take a four-point halftime lead.
Webster led all scorers on the evening as she hit 5-of-9 shots from three-point range on her way to 23 points. Johnson connected on 3-of-7 from outside the arc and finished with 11 points.
“They definitely got hot from the outside and we weren’t doing the job that we needed to do,” Corinth Holders coach Brandy Smith said. “When we went man-to-man to get out there on the shooters, we didn’t do what we needed to do. Then when we went back to the zone, that opened up the Red Sea for their shooters and they kept finding ways to get open.”
It may have been the shots from distance that provided the Trojans the lead but it was key foul shots down the stretch that were essential in fending off the Pirates.
South Johnston made 12-of-16 shots from the foul line for the game, including 11-of-13 in the fourth quarter.
After starting the game efficiently on offense, Corinth Holders (14-6, 5-2) went through periods of time when it could not buy a basket. The Pirates were 3-of-19 from three-point range.
“On our end, we just weren’t putting the ball in the basket,” Smith said. “We stopped attacking; we stopped running the offense the way it’s supposed to be run.”
Tajah Clark had 16 points for the visitors and Khadijah Neal added 15 in defeat.
Carson Denning joined Johnson and Webster in double figures for South Johnston with 11 points.
The win moved the Trojans to within two games of a second place tie with three conference games to go while Corinth Holders, at 5-2 in the conference, ended the night tied with Erwin Triton in second place behind league-leading Cleveland.
“We knew how important the game was tonight because we pretty much have to win out to be able to make the playoffs,” said Langdon Johnson. “We just kind of dug ourselves a hole.
“I guess they were just trying to dig out of that hole they dug and they just wanted it.”