Prep basketball: West sweeps SSS

West Johnston boys halt year-long losing streak

CorrespondentDecember 6, 2013 

— That long losing streak West Johnston had in boys’ basketball had to end sometime.

And when the Wildcats put together a huge second half, that sometime turned out to be Tuesday night.

Ryne Turner led the way with 12 points while Jarvin Holder chipped in 10, leading the Wildcats to a 57-49 victory over Smithfield-Selma in non-conference basketball action Tuesday night.

It was SSS that had started the Wildcats’ losing streak, with a 65-64 road win last Dec. 14.

West swept the doubleheader with the Spartans, as the Wildcat girls’ team took an early lead and coasted to a 52-40 victory.

West is a member of the Greater Neuse River 4A, while former GNRC member SSS belongs to the Two Rivers 3A for the first time this season.

The rematches are on Dec. 10 in Smithfield, which will be the next time the Wildcat teams take the floor.

SSS visited 4A Leesville Road Wednesday and hosts county rival and GNRC member Clayton on Friday.

Boys: West 57, SSS 49

SSS (1-5) had looked to be coasting to an easy victory early on, but the Wildcats didn’t fold.

“We preached to our kids the last couple of days about believing in their teammates,” West coach Kris Bennett said. “In the second half, guys started doing their roles and their jobs and trusting their teammates. That’s why our trap worked so well in the second half.”

The Spartans, who defeated the Wildcats 46-32 in their second meeting last season in Smithfield, made a point on the game’s first play on an alley-oop slam by Quantez Leach.

Another thunderous dunk from Leach, who finished with a game-high 16 points, gave SSS a 30-16 lead with 7:51 left in the third quarter.

“We were very complacent in the second half,” SSS coach James Robinson said. “It was night and day. They did everything we asked in the first half, and in the second half we went back to doing what (individuals) wanted instead of what we were supposed to do.”

West (1-2) went on a 14-2 run, later taking a 36-35 lead on Brandon Baucom’s three-point play with 3:09 left in the period.

SSS was up 44-39 after three periods, and led for the final time on another Leach slam with 4:02 left before West’s 9-0 run.

“We had a lot better team chemistry tonight,” Turner said. “This is a big win to build up some momentum and get some positive energy.”

West guard and fellow co-captain Cameron Williams had eight points with five rebounds and five assists.

“We came out as a team and played together tonight,” Williams said. “We knew that when they dunk it’s just two points and we can go down and score and get two of our own.”

Zay Best added 11 points and seven rebounds for SSS.

Leach, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in May and had to miss his senior football season, said he is no longer feeling ill effects after his treatment.

“I feel good,” Leach said. “I feel like I’m 110 percent right now. We don’t work on those alley-oops much. We just make eye contacts and they’re there. But tonight is real tough. I don’t really want to show my face right now.”

Girls: West 52, SSS 40

Jarmeia Holder and Christian Sanders poured in 18 points apiece for the Wildcats (2-1).

West led 30-15 at halftime and never let the Spartans closer than 10 points back the rest of the way.

The Wildcats are unbeaten in two games against county rivals, having topped South Johnston 57-39 eight days earlier.

Shay King had 10 rebounds for the Wildcats.

“We didn’t do anything for five days,” West coach Bill Pepicello said. “Last night’s practice wasn’t good, but that didn’t show tonight. When we can get out and run we’re OK.”

The teams had split two meetings last season.

SSS (0-5) got 17 points from Diamond Blackston and 12 from Dannya Tavarez.

“We need to get in shape for one thing,” SSS coach William Sanders said. “We were supposed to be in ‘man’ in the fourth quarter, and they kept dropping back into a zone. They were letting me know they were tired.”

Jarmeia Holder said she’s encouraged by the way West is playing right now.

“We did a good job of penetrating and kicking the ball out and looking for the open girl,” Holder said. “And our fast break was working well. We’re taking advantage of our speed.”

Blackston said the Spartans need to improve on a lot of things.

“We’re a young team and I don’t think we’re doing well with the mental part of the game,” Blackston said. “I’ve got to do a better job being a leader. And we need to work on our conditioning a lot.”

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