High School Sports

Garner boys basketball throttles Clayton in Greater Neuse River Conference showdown

Garner’s Nick Kuhns (20) dunks during the Garner Magnet High School basketball game against Clayton High School, December 17, 2015, Clayton, N.C.
Garner’s Nick Kuhns (20) dunks during the Garner Magnet High School basketball game against Clayton High School, December 17, 2015, Clayton, N.C. newsobserver.com

The top two teams in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference got together Thursday night. But the expected shootout never developed.

Garner got its transition game going in the first half and never slowed down against Clayton, rolling to an 81-45 rout of the Comets.

Trojans coach Eddie Gray came in with a plan, and his team executed it to near perfection to dominate the matchup of teams that entered the game with identical 8-1 overall records and 3-0 GNRC marks.

“We did a real good job in our zone,” Garner coach Eddie Gray said. “We didn’t think they could shoot the outside jumper and we stayed in the zone because they have some real quick kids.

“We do a really good job of rebounding on the back side of the zone and the kids who got the rebound did a good job of making that first outlet pass. This group is really unselfish and they are always looking to pass the ball ahead. I was just real pleased with the effort tonight.”

Junior point guard Thomas Allen led the way for the Trojans with 20 points, pushing the ball upcourt on the fast break for buckets or passing off to teammates.

“We played a real good game,” Allen said. “We like to run. We played well on both sides, on the defensive end as well as the offensive end. The offense feeds off of the defense.”

That was the story as the game went on. The Comets would on their end and the Trojans would grab the rebound and be off to the races.

The lead was 19-8 at the end of the first quarter, 42-22 at halftime and 70-35 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, the lead hit 40 points at 79-38 and the clock ran continuously for the final 3:15.

“We had to play perfect (to beat them) and we didn’t,” coach Denny Medlin said.”They got that snowball rolling. We kept turning the ball over and the ball didn’t go in for us and that got them in transition.

“The main thing was we had to play against their half-court defense and they didn’t have to play against ours.”

Clayton was led by Tre Armstead’s 12 points, but he was the lone Comet in double figures.

Turning point

The Trojans turned it into a rout in the second quarter. Up 21-14 with six minutes remaining in the period, Garner went on a 15-2 to lead by 20 at 36-16 and led 42-22 at halftime.

They said it

“When I saw the score of the Knightdale-Clayton game (Tuesday night) I didn’t sleep a lot last night,” Garner coach Eddie Gray said. “That was a big win for (Clayton) coach (Denny) Medlin’s club. He is a great coach and has his team well prepared. I was shocked at the outcome of the game tonight. If you had told me that we would have a running clock, I was have said you were crazy.

“But the kids rose to the occasion. I told them before the game if they won the game breakfast was on me Saturday and lunch on me next Wednesday. So it cost me Bojangles and a pizza party but it was worth it.”

Three who mattered

Garner’s Thomas Allen: The junior point guard scored a game-high 20 points and ignited the Trojans’ fastbreak offense all night.

Garner’s Davon Newton: The senior forward scored 15 points and rebounded well for the Trojans.

Garner’s Alex Reed: The junior forward scored 13 points and his outlet passes were the beginning of several Trojans fast breaks.

Highlight reel

The Trojans had an electrifying stretch to end the third period.

Alex Reed scored on a dunk at the end of a fast break with 1:01 remaining and Thomas Allen got a dunk to end another fast break 20 seconds later. Allen then picked off a pass and pulled up for a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left. Seven points in less than 30 seconds, resulting in a 70-35 bulge to end the period.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer