BENSON — South Johnston’s varsity basketball teams both suffered losses to East Wake on Tuesday, with the girls losing 49-33 and the boys coming up short 52-47.
Lady Trojans can’t keep up
South Johnston’s girls had a tough go of it against East Wake.
They opened by taking a 1-0 lead thanks to a McKinley Sills free throw. Unfortunately, this would be their only time leading for the rest of the game.
East Wake used a slight height advantage for most of the night, initiating an 11-0 run through the 1st quarter. South scored their first field goal of the night with 1:38 remaining in the opening frame to cut the lead to 13-4. Later, Nikki Lee hit a 3 before time expired to bring South within six after one quarter of action, 15-9.
The Trojans used this momentum to start off a promising second quarter. Lee added a free throw and Janay McDonald put in a basket to bring them within three of the lead. East Wake had an answer, however, closing out the first half on an 8-2 run to give themselves a 25-14 lead at the half.
South brought it back within five as Kennedy Byrd, McDonald, and Sills all scored consecutive buckets. East Wake came back with a six-point swing themselves. Despite outscoring the Warriors in the third, South trailed 33-24 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was the roughest for SJHS. They were again outscored, this time 16-9, despite their best efforts. Eventually, East Wake would go on to secure the 49-33 victory. Despite the loss, South head coach Whitney Williams was proud of her girls’ efforts.
“That was probably one of the first games that we played from start to finish,” she said. “From the first, through halftime, and into the fourth, that was one of our better games throughout.”
Sills led South with 10 points. McDonald followed with 9. Lee and Byrd both added 4. Jenna Brown had 3. Katon Blackmon had 2. Paige Toler had 1.
“These are my babies, definitely,” Williams said of her seniors. “We’ll miss their leadership. A lot of them have big roles for us here, from post to guards, all-around.”
The Lady Trojans fell to 4-19, 0-8. They travel to Cleveland (8-15, 3-6) for Thursday’s regular season finale.
Boys fall in an upset
Brody Massengill’s squad came out flat against East Wake. Limited offensive production and lax defense gave way to a 13-7 Warrior lead after one quarter.
“We just didn’t play well enough to win,” Trojan head coach Brody Massengill reflected. “I thought they outplayed us, out-hustled us. I told our guys tonight sometimes it looked like they were pulling a wagon behind them when they were running around. Sometimes playing hard isn’t enough. You have to play hard and execute, and we didn’t do that well enough tonight.”
The second quarter came in a little spicier as Cole Winborne hit a 3-pointer for South on their first possession. The teams traded buckets until East Wake pulled away on a 10-0 swing. CJ Ray began hitting shots towards the end of the quarter to keep South close, nailing a triple before time expired. The Trojans trailed 30-23 at the half.
After beginning the third quarter on an 8-2 run and building a 13-point lead, it looked like East Wake was prepared to make things ugly. That is, until CJ Ray happened. Ray proceeded to will his team back into the game with a solo nine-point run capped off with a three ball from the left wing. He cut the Warrior lead down to four, with the Trojans eventually trailing by 6 at the end of the third, 42-36.
Colby Norris kicked off the final quarter draining a shot beyond the arc to cut the lead to just three. East Wake responded with a bucket before Winborne nailed another 3-pointer. South stopped the next Warrior possession and pushed the ball upcourt on offense. CJ Ray drove to the basket and was fouled as he put up a running shot, tying the game at 44 and sending the home crowd into a frenzy. By finishing the three-point-play, Ray gave the Trojans their first lead since the start of the game with 5:17 remaining in the fourth.
East Wake responded. A few of the next offensive sequences didn’t go South’s way, causing them to lose possession and foul to prevent easy buckets. The Warriors converted free throws to the tune of an 8-2 run to close out the game, cementing their 52-47 upset win on South’s senior night.
“We just have to keep rolling,” Massengill added. “It’s far from over. To be honest, if we take care of business the way we’re supposed to, we’ll probably meet them (East Wake) again in the conference tournament. It’ll be a heck of a game again.”
Ray led the game with 25 points. Winborne was next with 6. Norris and David Carter both added 5. McLean had 4. Austin Denning had 2.
“The success that we’ve had over the past few years is all a credit to them,” Massengill said about his seniors. “It takes good players to win. They’re good players, good guys, and good teammates. I’m going to miss things about them that don’t have to do with basketball: bus rides, eating with them, different things. It’s tough but I don’t want to think about that right now because I think we still have a good run left in us.”
South Johnston fell to 19-4, 6-3. The loss drops them into a tie for second place with East Wake in the Greater Neuse 3A Conference. With Clayton locking up the regular season conference title, the Trojans look to solidify their hold on second when they travel to Cleveland (14-9, 4-5) on Thursday for their regular season finale.