Points were plentiful for both Neuse Christian and Wake Christian on Thursday, much more so for the visiting Lions thanks in large part to D.J. Myers.
The 6-foot-6 senior guard scored 34 points and Kaleb Hunter added 25 in Neuse Christian’s 103-83 victory over Wake Christian in a nonconference boys’ basketball meeting of North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association programs. Wake Christian prevailed, 51-41, in the girls’ basketball contest earlier that day.
In a game that was essentially a tune-up for both teams as they prepare to embark on conference tournament play next week – Neuse Christian in the Triangle Independent Schools Athletic 3A Conference and Wake Christian in the Carolina Christian 1A Conference – the Lions built an 18-point lead early in the fourth quarter before withstanding a late rally.
After Myers’ bucket put Neuse Christian up 83-65 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, Wake Christian scored the next 10 points, the run capped by an Amani Gill 3-pointer from the right corner with 5 minutes, 40 seconds remaining to draw the Bulldogs within 83-75.
Wake Christian would get no closer than eight, however. After a Joseph Bevan basket cut Neuse Christian’s lead to 89-81 with just under three minutes remaining, Myers scored 10 points in a game-closing 14-2 run.
Myers scored 26 of his 34 points in the second half.
“I put a lot of work in outside the court,” Myers said. “So coming into this game I was feeling pretty good about getting my shot off and getting to the spots I need to be successful and to help our team get the win.”
After John Kirkpatrick’s basket for Wake Christian cut Neuse Christian’s lead to 25-23 in the opening seconds of the second quarter, the Lions scored the next 15 points – seven of those by Alan Clarke – to take a 40-23 lead with 4:56 left in the frame and never trailed after that.
They said it
“They have size inside and that’s something we’ve struggled with all season, defending the post,” Wake Christian coach Chris Underwood said. “Myers does a really good job, and his first step is really quick. They throw a lot of guys at you and they really push the ball in transition. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get many stops.”
Three who mattered
Myers, Neuse Christian: In addition to his game-high scoring output, Myers added 12 rebounds and also had a pair of dunks. “He’s a guard that can play inside and outside, and in our system obviously we like to run and he causes a lot of mismatches,” Neuse Christian coach Scotty Richardson said. “They didn’t have a true big, and we just set D.J. in that short corner and he went to work.”
Hunter, Neuse Christian: It was a consistent effort from Hunter, who scored 13 points in the first half and then added six points each over the final two quarters.
Rob Whitfield, Wake Christian: The Bulldogs guard was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 23 of his team-high 28 points in the opening two quarters, including three 3-pointers.
By the numbers
2: Number of free throws Neuse Christian missed over its final 15 attempts.
22: The fewest number of points Neuse Christian scored in a quarter, that total coming in the fourth quarter.