Smithfield: Sports

Pirates on the brink of a title

Smithfield-Selma’s Parker Watson (10) battles Maddy Gladwell (22) and Holly Price (34) of Corinth Holders for a loose ball.
Smithfield-Selma’s Parker Watson (10) battles Maddy Gladwell (22) and Holly Price (34) of Corinth Holders for a loose ball.

Corinth Holders is having its best girls’ basketball season ever, and on Tuesday night it got just a little better.

Maddy Gladwell’s 14 points led three players in double figures as the Pirates took a 49-34 win in a Two Rivers 3A battle of Johnston County rivals on the Spartans’ Senior Night.

The win improved the Pirates to 16-6 overall and 7-2 in conference play and put them on the doorstep of their first conference championship. SSS, which must win the conference tournament to get a state playoff berth, fell to 8-13 and 3-6.

Tajah Clark and senior forward Holly Price added 11 and 10, respectively, for the Pirates.

“We put the ball in the basket tonight,” said Corinth Holders coach Brandy Smith, whose team had won their first meeting 56-52 on Jan. 23 in Wendell. “But defensively we did a really good job.

“In that fourth quarter we had a lot of stops on the defensive end, had good communication and made sure their shooters didn’t get any type of consistent rotation. We made them have to put the ball on the floor instead of getting good shots. Our rebounding needs to be more consistent, though. We need to keep holding teams to one shot.”

Parker Watson scored nine points and Dazmine Young had eight to lead the Spartans.

“We were just out of sync,” SSS coach William Sanders said. “Maybe the hoopla and all the senior stuff got in our heads and we lost focus. We had seven seniors, and sometimes that just happens on senior night.

“But we just didn’t play well. Our defense was terrible. We’ve fought back better than that before.”

Gladwell scored the first five points of the game for Corinth Holders, which fought through four lead changes to hold a 16-12 advantage after one period.

“I felt like I had to have some confidence in my shooting,” Gladwell said. “I expected lot of intensity from SSS. We had confidence and intensity right back. We didn’t just go out expecting to win. We just returned it and kept on going.”

And Clark went to work in the second, scoring seven points in the final 3:34 to give the visitors a 27-20 advantage at intermission.

“Tonight I thought we had better confidence than in any game all season,” Clark said. “Everybody was comfortable with shooting the ball, especially Maddy. And we just kept working hard. We knew they would play hard to make this their best game, and we had to match it.”

The Pirates put the game away with a run during the first half of the third quarter, taking a 38-23 lead on Gladwell’s bucket at 4:22. SSS was never again closer than 11 points back.

“I think the team got really focused on Senior Night,” said Parker Watson, a junior who is in her fourth year of high school basketball including a year at Neuse Charter as an eighth grader. “But we didn’t focus on the game itself instead of the ‘night.’

“Corinth has a really good offense and they beat us tonight a lot. Our defense just wasn’t matching up.”