PRINCETON — Through 16 minutes of play between the Princeton and South Johnston boys basketball teams, there was very little that seemed to separate the two sides.
Down a point entering the third quarter, South Johnston looked for a spark and found it in senior wingman Will Holmes. Holmes hit all four of his 3-point attempts in the third quarter including three in a row on three consecutive trips down the court for South Johnston to help give the Trojans a 65-57 win.
After opening the third period with a pair of easy buckets supplied by David Ennis, South Johnston stretched its lead to 10 points after Holmes’ barrage that was punctuated by a lay-up on the Trojans’ following offensive possession.
All told, Holmes scored 11 points in a matter of minutes on four consecutive possessions.
“We executed offensively very well but when Will is shooting like that, it makes you look like you’re executing,” South Johnston coach David Dewey said of his senior sharpshooter. “He shot lights out.”
Holmes would end his night with 25 points on 5-of-10 shooting from behind the arc. As a team, the Trojans over 50% from three-point range (8-15).
South Johnston’s ability to hit from long distance served to magnify Princeton’s tough shooting night as the Bulldogs made just 4-18 three-pointers for the game.
“I think we took some good shots but I think some of them were too quick,” Princeton coach Jeff Davis said. “I thought they shot the ball great and we shot it poorly.”
Despite Holmes’ scoring spree, Princeton’s Michael Wooten hit his first three-pointer of the night in the third quarter’s final seconds to give the Bulldogs a little life heading into the final period down 13 points.
A full court press helped to force seven South Johnston turnovers in the fourth quarter and Colby Norris cut the Trojan lead to 60-54 with 53 seconds remaining.
Fortunately for South Johnston, Alan Johnson hit two free throws to extend the lead once again to help the Trojans hold off the Bulldogs.
“Those kids never quit,” Dewey said of the Princeton team. “When we got up 13 points, their team kept scratching and clawing back and one point got the lead down to six. Luckily Alan hit both the free throws.”
In addition to Holmes, Garrett Smith, who came off of the bench to provide the Trojans with 16 important points, also helped the South Johnston offense run efficiently in the second half. Johnson finished with eight points.
As much as the Trojans’ shooting display on Tuesday night impressed Davis, it was South Johnston’s patience on the offensive end of the court that had him really take notice.
“One thing about that team is that they run their offense over and over again,” Davis said of South Johnston half-court offense. “They passed the ball and passed the ball until they got a great shot.”
Princeton (1-1) received balance scoring from its starting five that accounted for all of the Bulldogs’ points. Alex Whitley and Tanner Woodard led the way with 13 points apiece, Wooten added 12, Norris provided 11, and Joel Hines pitched in with eight.