High School Sports

Smithfield-Selma gets by West Johnston girls for first win

West Johnston’s Christian Sanders (10) brings the ball down the court against Natalie Sabiston (4) of Smithfield-Selma.
West Johnston’s Christian Sanders (10) brings the ball down the court against Natalie Sabiston (4) of Smithfield-Selma. newsobserver.com

The Smithfield-Selma girls basketball team has improved tremendously from where it was at the start of the season but heading into their road contest at West Johnston Monday night, that improvement had not yet equated to wins.

The Spartans had a coming-out performance, however, as they knotted their first win of the season in easing past West Johnston 60-49, avenging a 20-point defeat to the same Wildcats in both teams’ openers.

“They have worked so hard at practice,” Smithfield-Selma coach Stacy Holland said. “They’re young and they are starting to click. I’m happy with what they’re doing and with what they’re doing at practice to get better.”

The Spartans (1-10) had three players in double figures as Logan Lee, Nicole Sabiston and Parker Watson combining for 49 of the Spartans’ 60 points.

“We’re not a one-man team,” Holland added. “They are the three I asked a couple games ago to step and they’ve done exactly that.”

West Johnston (1-7) attempted to stay in the game with the perimeter jump shot but the long ball wasn’t falling for much of the night. The Wildcats made just 5-of-27 three-point attempts.

The missed shots resulted in a decided advantage for West Johnston on the glass but the Wildcats were unable to convert many of the extra possessions into points.

Turning point

On three consecutive trips down the court late in the third quarter, Smithfield-Selma senior point guard Logan Lee beat her defender off the dribble, penetrated into the lane and then kicked out to open shooters who knocked down their shots for a quick 8-0 run that spread the game wide open.

Three who mattered

Logan Lee, Smithfield-Selma: The Wildcats had no answer for Lee who led all Spartan scorers with 22 points. Lee also hit 11-of-12 foul shots and dished out six assists.

Christian Sanders, West Johnston: Sanders almost single-handedly kept West Johnston in the game. The senior sharpshooter went for 28 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

Natalie Sabiston, Smithfield-Selma: Sabiston provided a spark in the third quarter where her nine points helped the Spartans build their lead to double digits. The sophomore guard ended with 17 points.

They said it

“Our first game, I think we were all a little nervous,” Lee said. “After a couple games, we started working as a team and when we do that, it shows.”

Highlight Reel

Late in the third quarter, a long rebound led to a secondary break for Smithfield-Selma. Despite three Wildcat players already back in position in the lane, a quick crossover from Logan Lee to her left hand left all three players in her rearview mirror and Lee converted the chip shot for a basket.

By the Numbers

28: Offensive rebounds collected by West Johnston.

12: Turnovers committed by Smithfield-Selma, a vast improvement from the beginning of the year when Holland recounted games of 30 or more turnovers.

0: Players in double digits for West Johnston besides Christian Sanders.