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Falcons rout Rampants in semis


South Central head coach Chris Cherry cheers his team on during their game against D. H. Conley at South Central High School, Jan. 21, 2016. (Abbey Mercando/The Daily Reflector)


By Nathan Summers
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, February 16, 2017

WINTERVILLE — Home-standing South Central made quick work of J.H. Rose in the semifinals of the Eastern Carolina Conference 3-A/4-A boys’ basketball tournament. Very quick.

In fact, the way the Falcons’ wire-to-wire 64-35 victory on Wednesday night began said it all. SC connected on its first three shots, all 3-pointers, and led 12-0 midway through the first quarter before Rose scored its first basket. Things did not change until it was too late, as the Falcons (22-1) continued knocking down shots and terrorizing the Rampants with pressure defense.

SC led 34-9 at halftime and had spent that entire time dictating the tempo to the visitors.

“It was very key to get out quick after not playing for almost a week,” SC coach Chris Cherry said of his team, which ended the opening period leading 16-2. “I thought our defense was very good early, very active. We moved our feet and jumped some passing lanes, and offensively, I thought we basically moved it to the next guy, and whoever had the best shot took it.”

In the opening sequences, it was Jahzeer Baker who was wide open for the first trey before Raequan Harris canned the next two for a 9-0 advantage. Not much changed after that, and Baker’s eight points and Harris’ 11 reflected a great balanced attack for the Falcons.

Tahj Riddick led all scorers with 12 points and had an emphatic drive and left-handed dunk in the fourth quarter. Also for SC, Xavier Boyd added eight points and Sykeim Phillips nine.

Rose’s all-night shooting woes were reflected in the Rampants’ nine-point first half. JHR was led by the nine total points scored by Creighton Lebo.

Much of the visitors’ struggles happened long before shots were even taken, however, as South Central’s pressure defense continually caused possession changes and fast-break baskets for the Falcons.

“It’s going to pick up a little bit (in the postseason) and we’re not going to be able to turn people over as much, but as long as we can get the tempo of the game going up and down, that’s the way we want to play,” Cherry said. “And if we get beat playing that way, we shake the other guys’ hands and say good job.”

Contact Nathan Summers at nsummers@reflector.com, 252-329-9595 or follow @NateSumm99 on Twitter.