FOUR OAKS — David Dewey said he figures if his South Johnston team wins a lot of games this season, most of them will be pretty close.
On Wednesday night against North Johnston the Trojans held big leads all night, but had to endure a little unexpected game pressure down the stretch to secure the victory.
Will Holmes led the way with 17 points and Blake Tart chipped in 13 as South held off North 47-38 in boys’ basketball.
The win improved the Trojans to 6-5 on the season while the Panthers fell to 3-7.
South is a member of the new Two Rivers 3A, while North is a new member of the Eastern Plains 2A.
“North’s shots were off early in the game,” Dewey said. “When they finally started hitting, there they came. We played good defense and mixed it up a little bit. Will was hitting shots in the first half and that was good for us. But they stepped up their defense in the fourth.
“This is my second year back, and I think they’re learning our patterns offensively and what we’re wanting to do defensively.”
The Trojans, who have won six of their last nine games, took a 12-7 lead after one quarter and stretched it to 34-18 on a David Ennis free throw with 6:57 to go. But a frantic North rally made it 40-35 on a Daniels layup before the Trojans regrouped.
“We made the shots in the fourth quarter that we weren’t making before,” North coach Derrick Johnson said. “We started hitting ‘3s’ and our press was working.
“But we have to shoot the ball better for four quarters to beat a good team. I thought we played decent, but we couldn’t put the ball in the hole most of the night.”
Tart had four of the Trojans’ last six points, including a pair of free throws with 35.7 left to complete the scoring.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Tart said. “But that will happen if we keep working hard. We’ve just got to do a good job keeping leads when we get them.”
Holmes had kept the Trojans in control for much of the game, hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter to help South to a 29-17 lead at the break.
“We’re playing really good defense,” Holmes said. “Playing together well and getting good shots. We’re on a roll.
“But we played a good team tonight. It felt really good to get this win. We’ve usually been the ones coming back. But when North got hot it looked like they were just throwing the ball into the ocean when they shot.”
The rematch is Jan. 3 in Kenly.
“It was a good comeback,” Daniels said. “But we’ve got to put together better effort to beat a good team. We needed to win this game to prove we’re better than people think we are.”
South’s made its conference debut on Friday night at Triton. North’s next game is at home Dec. 27 against Midway.