As teams reached the halfway point of the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference basketball schedule, Holly Springs picked up a pair of varsity wins with relative ease on Friday night.
The boys’ team defeated Apex Friendship 67-22 while the girls beat the Patriots 66-32.
Holly Springs elected not to press Apex Friendship – a common tactic of opponents against the first-year program with freshmen and sophomores – and it worked anyway.
The Golden Hawks (4-9, 3-5) jumped out to a 22-0 lead after the first quarter and led 49-8 at halftime for force a second-half running clock. The Patriots (0-11, 0-8) did not score a field goal until the 4:20 mark in the third quarter.
“I didn’t want to be uncharacteristic just because they were a young team and they may not have strong ballhandlers. I didn’t want to exploit that, I just wanted to do what we do best,” said Holly Springs coach Richard Young. “We play everyone else halfcourt man-(to-man) so we needed to get better at man and I think we did tonight.”
The Golden Hawks – without leading scorer Ryan Blount with an injured back muscle – were led by Jordan Brown’s 18 points and seven rebounds. Brown got in a few dunks while Kristian Williams did the same off the bench for 10 points and eight rebounds.
Almost every Holly Springs player scored. Garrett Sykes scored four quick points in the final minute of the game, much to the crowd’s delight.
After two losses by two points or less and two more in overtime, Young is ready for his team to come back strong in the second half of SWAC play.
“If we split with the teams that beat us in those close games, we’ll be right there (in the race for an automatic playoff spot),” Young said.
The Patriots had three players with five points – Vincent Burlingame, Dean Kelly, and Cole Bouqin. Collectively, they had just eight rebounds on the night.
The one thing Holly Springs’ and Apex Friendship’s girls had in common was they had a lot of players who have never played on JV.
In the case of the Golden Hawks (11-2, 8-0), that means four-year starters. In the case of the Patriots (0-10, 0-8) it’s a byproduct of being the first team in school history.
Holly Springs jumped out to a 23-4 lead after the first quarter – 35-15 at halftime – and did not look back or trail.
The Hawks were led by Caila Spruill’s 12 points and 13 rebounds and Brianna Tate’s 14 points and six steals. Kiana Carter and Nya Jordan scored 10 points each and the SWAC leaders racked up 24 steals.
Next Friday’s showdown with Green Hope will be for first place in the league.
“I was hoping for this, of course, but I just hope it continues,” coach Peace Shepard said.
The Patriots were led by Malaika Kimmons’ double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds) and Camryn Lunsford’s eight points and four steals.
Despite the losses, coach Scott Campbell has played some SWAC teams close. In the second go-round of conference play, he’s ready for his young team to make adjustments and game plan for specific opponents, now that they know what those teams are like.
“They’re going to be really good, and I’m having a ball, but the margin of error is really small right now,” Campbell said.