Basketball: South vs. North

Points at a premium in South Johnston’s sweep of North Johnston

cbest@newsobserver.comJanuary 6, 2014 

— Scoring wasn’t the theme of the night by far when Johnston County rivals South Johnston and North Johnston battled Friday night. That didn’t mean there wasn’t exciting basketball played as South swept the night’s wins and the season series, taking the girls game 47-43, and the boys, 35-32 in overtime.

The Trojans’ combined margin of victory on the night was seven points and just 157 points were scored in the two games combined.

Little scoring, plenty of excitement

The lack of offense was at its most obvious in the boys game as South Johnston won in spite of scoring just 10 points in the second half and 35 on the night.

Neither South coach David Dewey or North’s Derrick Johnson expected a pace that seemed to slow with every position until a frantic final minute of regulation and an up-and-down overtime period.

Both teams spent the night running patient offensive sets that produced good looks at the basket but few made baskets. It was another frustrating night for the North offense.

“Overall, this was one of our best games as far as defense,” Johnson said. “We didn’t get killed on the boards. We just can’t score consistently. … South let us stay in the game by missing free throws so we were fortunate in overtime to have a chance.”

The two teams traded baskets in their first possessions of overtime but it was all free throws the rest of the way as South held on to win despite going just 3-of-10 from the free throw line in overtime.

Blake Tart hit a pair of free tosses with 2:03 to go in overtime to put South ahead for good, then Will Holmes added another with 12.6 seconds to play after a key steal by teammate Javonta Smith on North’s end. Holmes led South with 12 points, while Gage Massengill and Alan Johnson had eight each.

North’s Tyler Hodge had a look at a tying 3-pointer in the final moments but the ball rimmed out. Hodge led the Panthers (3-9) with a game-high 13 points.

“Somehow we won even though we hit just 3-of-10 free throws in overtime,” Dewey said. “Anytime you come here we always play very good games with them. You expect close games against North.”

No goals, one win

South Johnston had three goals on the board before its first game of 2014 against the Panthers. They were, according to Trojans’ coach Ronda Langdon Johnson: no more than 12 turnovers, score at least 50 points and hold North to 40 or less.

The Trojans didn’t achieve any of those goals, but did get a hard-earned road win over the pesky Panthers.

“We didn’t play very well early and it was a hard game to get into a flow,” Langdon Johnson said. “What makes me most proud is that we didn’t loose our cool in a game that was so out of control.”

South trailed until the 3:46 mark of the third quarter when Krista Collins drilled a 3-pointer. Tangela Williams would temporarily put North back on top one more time but another Trojan 3-ball – this one by Anna Webster put South (10-3) up for good in the final minute of the third quarter.

Alexis Massengill had 13 points and dominated the boards for the Trojans, while Collins added 12 and Emma Blackmon contributed nine points.

The Trojans went to a 3-2 zone for much of the second half one that helped cut down on North’s looks at open 3-pointers. Langdon Johnson said South’s players are becoming more and more comfortable in the defense and learning how to make it thrive.

The Panthers hit five 3-pointers in the first half and just three in the second half. One of those second-half treys was one at the buzzer by Olivia Narron.

Jamie Johnson (15 points) and Chandler Hines (9) hit a trio of 3-pointers each for North (8-4) in the loss.

“North Johnston is just such a scrappy, hard-playing, well-coached team,” Langdon Johnson said. “They’re very aggressive and played about 10 times better than they did in our first game.”

Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest

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