Josh Raiford hit a pair of free throws with two seconds left, giving Smithfield-Selma a 58-56 boys’ basketball win over Triton on the Spartans’ Senior Night.
The win evened the season series at one apiece and gave SSS a chance to win a share of the Two Rivers 3A conference title with one game left.
Triton had won the first boys’ meeting 77-73 on Jan. 25 in Erwin. The Spartans have won four straight games.
Triton won the girls’ game 60-42 behind 24 points from senior wing Tarica Worley to sweep the season series.
Both Smithfield-Selma teams visit traditional archrival South Johnston on Thursday night. Triton has its Senior Night games against county rival Western Harnett the same night.
Spartans come back from 10 down
Malik Frazier had 15 points while Raequan Smith added 11 for SSS (15-8, 7-3 Two Rivers 3A).
“We stepped up and made shots at crucial times and hit our free throws down the stretch,” SSS coach Matt Cuddington said. “I thought by opening it up, we got in the paint and got some easy baskets. This is a very satisfying win.”
Jaquan Harris had 15 points and Shiquan Cox 14 for Triton (12-10, 6-3).
Smith, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th career point, said he was relaxed on the free throws.
“There isn’t that much to say about it,” Smith said. “I just shot 20 free throws before the game like I do every time.”
The Hawks were up 26-24 at the break after a nip-and-tuck first half. Triton led 43-36 after three.
It was 46-36 after Harris’ 3-pointer for the Hawks with 7:45 remaining, but the Spartans kept coming.
SSS went on a 15-4 run to take a 51-50 lead on a Smith layup at 3:27, and was up 54-53 on a Smith free throw at 2:23.
Harris’ 3-pointer put Triton up 56-54 at 1:05, but a pair of Frazier free throws tied it again at 0:53.
“I knew we were fighting for a playoff spot,” Frazier said. “We just had to step it up defensively in the second half, and we did.”
Triton’s depth dominates girls’ game
The Hawks got 15 points from Anna Tyndall and never trailed after the first quarter in the comfortable win.
Sophomore guard Logan Lee led the Spartans with 25 points. Seniors Parker Watson scored six points and Karlie McCullers five in their final home game.
The result means Triton will finish in second place in the Two Rivers 3A standings and get a bye in the first round of the conference tournament next week.
“We played in spurts,” Triton coach Keith Howard said. “We didn’t start off the game well. We’ve got to come in with the right attitude every game. SSS beat us last year, and they played really hard tonight.”
Triton (15-6, 7-2 Two Rivers 3A) had also won the first girls’ meeting 65-39 on Jan. 25 in Erwin.
SSS (3-19, 2-7), playing with only six players, trailed 8-7 after the first period and just 30-25 early in the third quarter before the Hawks went on a 20-0 run.
“We were feeling good when we were only down 10 at halftime,” first-year SSS coach Stacy Holland said. “But their pressure in the third quarter threw us a little bit. We started doing what we needed to do in the fourth quarter and ended the game strong. The thing I like about our girls is that they do not quit.”
Lee said that it was difficult playing with such a short bench but that the Spartans are used to it by now.
“We struggled for like a three-minute stretch in the third quarter, and that allowed them to get a big lead,” Lee said. “They were making good passes and running through our defenses. When we got that straightened out, we finished a lot better.”