Youth and experience combined late in the South Central boys’ basketball team’s season opener Tuesday night to help the Falcons edge out First Flight, 70-63.
Trailing 50-46 entering the fourth quarter, SC was looking to grab a late lead and hold off a Nighthawks team that had found its groove from beyond the arc. A six-point run from the Falcons brought them to within two-points, 54-52, but once again, a deep 3 from Dylan Blake (22 points) expanded the visitors’ lead. A three-pointer and a perfect trip to the free throw line from Falcon Travon Ward (17 points) then tied the game again at 57 before Blake hit yet another triple, setting up an exciting finish to the night.
Moses Tufts and Jyquan Sheppard (12 points) then both nailed tight shots for South Central before a third straight Blake three, making the score 63-61 Nighthawks. Dante Hutcherson made just one shot from the field on the night, but with 2:35 to go, he hit a corner 3 to make it 64-63 Falcons. A shot from Sheppard following a timeout shortly after had the home crowd on its feet with 1:40 left. Solid defense and hard work on the glass helped the Falcons escape with the win.
South Central freshman point guard Daylin Brown made his varsity debut to the tune of a team-high 22 points on the night.
“He’ll continue to grow (as a part of our offense),” Falcons head coach Chris Cherry said of Brown. “Without him tonight, we would have been in a world of trouble.”
Cherry was unsure of how his new squad would perform together early in the season, and he saw several moments that needed improvement as the year progresses.
“We got a heck of a long ways to go,” Cherry said when asked what he had learned from the night’s performance.
As expected, the Nighthawks had no nerves about firing from beyond the arc, hitting 12 three-pointers on the evening.
“You have to close them out,” Cherry said of the defensive game plan. “You have to chase them off the three-point line. You have to keep the ball in front of you so you don’t have to rotate as much defensively. We were terrible with that in the first half.”
Despite struggling on rotations, the Falcons held a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 11-10. Both sides struggled from the floor, and a late 3 just before the halftime buzzer from First Flight’s Issac Dobie (11 points) pulled the score to just two 26-24.
The Nighthawks hit five consecutive 3s to begin the second half, as they began to open up a lead midway through the third, but SC continued to fight back.
SC (1-0) will continue its stretch of three games in three days to open the season tonight when it hosts Bertie.
GIRLS’ GAME South Central 66 First Flight 38
The Falcons girls’ squad cruised past the Nighthawks on Tuesday behind sophomore forwards Kayla Friend (15 points) and Alondra Jordan (17 points).
“We’re young, but we’re taking things day by day trying to get better,” SC head coach Robert Duck said. “We’re doing a good job of that right now, and if we keep it up, the sky is the limit for this bunch.”
A 35-19 lead at the break was plenty of room for SC to sub in bench players for experience.
SC (2-0) will return to action tonight when it hosts Bertie.
South Central picked up a 52-42 win over Enloe win at the Southeast Raleigh Magnet Invitational on Nov. 30 behind 16 points from Jordan and 15 points from Friend.
Al’Myra Brown and Kayla Smith both added 11 points each.
GIRLS’ BASKETBALL North Pitt 51, Wilson Fike 32
Aquaris Pettaway dominated with a 19-point, 16-rebound double-double as the Panthers improved to 2-1 with an easy victory.
Complementing that effort was Ashanti Hines with 18 points and six steals in the win.
North Pitt is back in action tonight when the Panthers trek to take on Northern Nash.
BOYS’ BASKETBALL John Paul II 67 Christ Covenant 37
John Paul II improved to 4-2 following a win over Christ Covenant on Monday night.
Jordan Yarrell (14 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals) led the way for the Saints in the win.
Jaylin Daniels (11 points, three assists, three steals) and Brandon Forrest (11 points) also had strong nights.
MIDDLE SCHOOLS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL Grifton 22, Bethel 12
Grifton topped Bethel Middle School on Monday night. Bethel was led by Kayden Howell (10 points), while Grifton received a strong night from Aaliegh Hewitt (12 points).
Bethel (1-1, 0-1) will travel to take on G.R. Whitfield on Thursday.
BOYS’ BASKETBALL Bethel 38, Grifton 34 (2OT)
Fans were treated to plenty of extra basketball Monday night, as Bethel managed to escape Grifton in double overtime.
Bethel will travel to take on G.R. Whitfield Thursday.