SMITHFIELD — When all else fails, many coaches resort to gimmick defenses against a team’s star or leading player. Those defenses can range from a box-and-one to a triangle-and-two to a triangle-and-one with a chaser, among others.
Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t. When they do, chances of an upset are better - when they don’t, well, it was a good idea in theory.
Tuesday night, it was a good idea utilized by visiting Carolina 1A Conference rival Hobbton, but the end result was a dominating, 72-42 victory by Neuse Charter. which extended its record to 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference.
What worked: The ability of the Cougars to adapt to the challenge of Hobbton’s gimmick box-and-one employed on Neuse Charter’s Jimmie Sanders III.
The Cougars responded with solid efforts from Jarrod Sealey, Darrius Stevens and Devante Stevens, all with double-digit scoring efforts in leading Neuse to the overwhelming decision.
That trio was responsible for 15 of the Cougars’ points in a 21-6 surge to open the game, putting Hobbton on its heels for the remainder of the evening.
Devante Sevens had 10 of those points along with five rebounds in the period, as the Cougars quickly made the use of the box-and-one on Stevens moot.
Darrius Stevens, while dropping in only three points, made his presence felt with three first period blocks and two assists, while Sealey added a bucket and three rebounds as well as intimidating and harassing the Wildcats as they attempted to move the ball up the floor.
With the wraps taken off Sanders after that opening period, he responded with a game-high 25 points - two of those off free throws in the first quarter.
“They (Wildcats) did some box-and-one on us,” said Neuse Charter coach Jimmie Sanders Jr. “We have some good players that can pick up the load for us - and we’re handling that (gimmick defenses) a little better each night out.”
What didn’t work: Despite being able to move the ball up the court with relative ease, the Cougars’ defense began to let up in the third period, allowing the Wildcats to trim a 37-14 halftime cushion to 47-31 before regaining control of the game.
“Our intensity level dropped in the second half,” Sanders said. “It happens to younger teams – we have to learn how to play harder longer, be able to play 32 minutes - and not watch the scoreboard.”
Production: DeVante Stevens, with 12 points and nine rebounds, and Darrius Stevens, with 11 points and seven rebounds, had balanced games for the Cougars.
Unsung hero: While Sanders was ecstatic of how his team met the challenge on the gimmick defense, he praised the effort of Kyle Austin, who was making only his second appearance since the opening of the season.
“It shows the level of his toughness,” Sanders said. “Having only been back for 2 1/2 weeks, he has a lot of catching up to do, but he is a big asset for us, when Jimmie, DeVante and Darrius need a breather.”