Smithfield: Sports

Corinth Holders basketball squads looking for right mix

In order to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs.

That being the case, the coaches of the boys and girls basketball teams from Corinth Holders are finding themselves spending a lot of time in their respective kitchens in the early stages of their 2013-2014 campaigns.

Both are in the process of trying to find the right formulas that will jell their Two Rivers 3A Conference teams into cohesive, confident editions on the hardwood.

Tuesday night found both squads still looking for but failing to find those concoctions, dropping their respective contests. The Pirates boys bowed, 68-54, while the girls fell, 55-37 to Big East 3A Conference member Nash Central.

Boys’ second-quarter woes were costly

The mixture turned bad for the Pirates in the second period, as their recipe soured from an 18-12 first quarter deficit to 40-20 by halftime.

Corinth Holders couldn’t keep pace with the Bulldogs fast-paced attack, particularly that of Aaron Spivey and Daniel Pittman, who accounted for 16 of the points in the period. Spivey threw down two of his five 3-pointers and 10 of his game-high 25 as the Bulldogs turned a tight battle into a breeze.

Pittman’s contributions came in the form of his three assists in the game, while pulling down four of his team-leading eight rebounds. The quartet of caroms came on one-shot possessions by the Pirates and led to three baskets.

Pittman also turned a rebound into a baseline jumper, giving the Bulldogs a 31-19 lead.

The Pirates drew within 13 points on two occasions – at 52-39 at the outset of the fourth period on a driving basket in the lane by Kiyon Walden and 63-50 with 3:15 left in regulation on a 3-point play by Alan Forrest.

Both baskets capped runs of 12-2 and 10-3, respectively, by the Pirates, only to see the Bulldogs quickly regain control.

Corinth Holders coach Chris Davis found positives in the efforts of his team, but admitted there was a lot of work to be done.

“When we weren’t turning the ball over, we were running our offense to high proficiency,” Davis said. “But we can’t keep digging ourselves into a hole every night.”

Davis reflected on his three previous seasons, noting this was the first year with a virtually new starting lineup.

“It’s the first time since I’ve been here we’ve had a different starting five,” Davis said. “The guys are taking on new roles this year, and they have to find their comfort zone.”

Back is Walden, who pumped in a team-high 16 points for the Pirates, along with Jaylyn Neal, who added 13.

Among Neal’s 13 points were a trio of long distance 3-pointers.

Walden averaged double-digit scoring last year, and is expected to carry a heavier part of the load this season.

“Kiyon was a full-time starter for us last year,” Davis said. “We need to find better and easier ways to get the ball to him.”

Davis hopes to find a point guard to replace Ethan Kersat, who Davis said could take apart the opposition’s defense with pin-point passing.

Several players are trying to fill the void for the Pirates, but the process is slow in coming.

“I didn’t think it would take this long for us to come together,” Davis said.

So far the efforts do not make up the 50 points per game lost to graduation from last year’s 22-3 squad. But help is expected to come from Dymon Walker and Neal.

Walker contributed seven points and six rebounds against the Bulldogs, which tied him for the team lead with Kalen Cooper.

Girls searching for good balance

The Pirates girls, who fell to 1-2, had their hands full mixing patience with aggressiveness.

Corinth Holders opened aggressively against the Bulldogs, but produced more turnovers than points as they had their hands full with their speedy opponents.

Everything started off well for the Pirates, racing to an 8-3 lead behind a basket from Cyarra Pierson and six points from Tajah Clark. That lead was short-lived, however, as the Bulldogs forced the Pirates into five consecutive turnovers resulting in a 14-13 Nash Central lead.

Corinth Holders regained the lead on baskets by Pierson and Khadijah Neal for a 19-16 lead, only to see Nash Central surge in front on nine consecutive points to end the half.

The Bulldogs broke the game open with a 9-0 run to close the third quarter.

“When we were turning the ball over, they were converting the turnovers into points,” Pirates coach Brandy Smith said. “We were able to run the floor, but when we slowed down, we were not in position to be able to run the offense or keep up with them.”

The Pirates may have lost a vital cog in Clark, who injured her right knee in the closing stages of the game on a drive to the basket.

Coming off an injury to the MCL on her left knee a year ago, Clark had bucketed a game-high 19 points, and was on the way to a possible three-point play with 1:15 to play when the injury occurred as she put on the brakes beneath the basket.

“We’re hoping she hasn’t hurt it like the other knee,” Smith said. “We’re going to let the swelling go down and hope for the best.”

Smith had listed Clark as one of the keys to the success of the Pirates this season. Also expected to be a key factor is Pierson, who hauled down 14 rebounds – almost half of the team total of 30 – and added six points.

“Cyarra is one player we can count on to hit the boards for us,” Smith said. “We would like to have a few more players to be that aggressive.”

Neal added 10 points and five rebounds for Corinth Holders.