A flurry of 3-pointers in the middle of the game got Corinth Holders off and running to the Two Rivers 3A Conference boys basketball tournament title.
The Pirates hit 3s on their final three possessions of the first half and then opened the second half with successive 3s by Jordan Neal. Suddenly, Corinth Holders was up 35-22 on Smithfield-Selma and on its way to a 75-50 victory.
“It was huge (to hit the 3s),” Pirates coach Chris Davis said. “It spreads the floor. It helped us open up a little gap and made them press a little bit. It got them running up and down the floor more and that played to our advantage.
“Our guys really love to run up and down the floor.”
Davis called Neal’s 3s (he had three in the third quarter) a game-changer.
“I actually said at halftime after we had walked out and were shooting around, I turned back and said to my assistant coach, ‘Jordan (Neal) is about to get hot right here,’ ” Davis said. “He has hit a lot of opportune 3-pointers this year and has really changed games and changed our whole team.
“Not to mention that he is one of our best defensive players.”
Neal finished with 16 points to lead the Pirates. Brian Frazier and Steven Adams added 10 points apiece.
“I always feel confident in myself and my team,” Neal said. “When we get after and play hard, things start going our way. This is my senior year and I haven’t won a conference championship since my freshman year. This means a lot.”
Corinth Holders finished in a three-way tie for first place in the conference in the regular season with Smithfield-Selma and Erwin Triton. All three teams had 7-3 conference marks.
The Pirates got the top seed in the tournament by the luck of the draw but backed it up with a title run.
“Anytime you win a championship even if you share it, it’s a big deal,” Davis said. “They don’t happen every single day. But to go through and solidify it (with a tournament title) makes it mean a little bit more.
“It really does. It’s been an up-and-down season and we found our legs late in the year and came together as a team. This shows them what you can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit.”
Corinth Holders (17-8) will get the Two Rivers’ No. 1 seed in the state playoffs. Smithfield-Selma (17-8) will get the No. 2 seed and Triton the No. 3.
Smithfield-Selma was led by Raequan Smith with 14 points. Malik Frazier added 10.
Two Rivers 3A Boys
First Round: Cleveland 59, South Johnston 53; Triton 70, Western Harnett 59
Semifinals: Smithfield-Selma 58, Triton 48; Corinth Holders 47, Cleveland 46
Championship: Corinth Holders 75, Smithfield-Selma 50