CLAYTON — The Clayton girls’ basketball team showed why it once again figures to be a key player in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference as the Comets defeated former conference member Smithfield-Selma 71-36 Friday night.
Taisha Murphy led all scorers with 22 points, doing much of her damage in the first half. In the second half, Amber Caudle kept the offense clicking with 15 of her 21 points coming in the finals 16 minutes of play to go along with 14 rebounds.
Jenna Harris had 13 points and Haley Wilkins added eight points for a Comets squad that has developed a good chemistry after just one week of play.
Murphy’s floor vision was on display Friday night as the junior guard dished out seven assists.
“They play together and they play hard; that makes for a good team,” Clayton coach Marlon Lee said. “They share the basketball and they root each other on and that’s what makes for a good year.”
There’s little concern on the defense’s ability to disrupt other teams as the ninth-year head coach feels he once again has a team with the speed and quickness to be effective at forcing turnovers from opponents.
However, in order to compete with Southeast Raleigh, also a perennial conference power, Lee is looking to his veteran guard play to make the right decisions and be tough with the basketball.
Harris and Murphy bring the experience while Haley Wilkins figures to help play a key role as well.
“We’ve just got to get tougher with the ball offensively,” Lee said. “I think the defense will come but we’ve got to put the ball in the goal.”
Patience will also be a key for a Spartans team that believes it has a chance to compete for a title in the Two Rivers 3A Conference. The newly constructed conference appears to be up for grabs with no clear front runner heading into the season.
“Patience and shot selection,” Smithfield-Selma coach William Sanders said when asked what was key for his team’s success in conference play this season. “We need to also be smart off the ball and switch defensively.”
Against Clayton, newcomer Dannya Tavarez demonstrated her range as the junior guard connected on 4-of-9 three point shots to lead her team with 17 points as Sanders described her arrival as “a good fit”.
Diamond Blackston also provides another scoring threat for Smithfield-Selma and the junior guard’s ability to get to the basket helped lead to a nine-point performance Friday night.
Diamond Fant, Elizabeth Guzman and Parker Watson look to provide the Spartans with some much-needed depth.
“Well conference wise, we want to take it,” Sanders said. “I think the girls will get there.
“I’m looking forward to it.”