Harnett Central split varsity basketball contests with visiting Cleveland on Monday night, with the Trojans winning the girls game and the Rams winning the boys contest.
Harnett Central overcame a slow start to take a 57-34 win over Cleveland in the girls game and stay unbeaten on the season.
“To be expected after a little bit of a break and not playing since last Monday, a little slow to start with,” said Harnett Central girls coach Catherine Griffin. “But once we picked up our defensive intensity, the offense started flowing, as well. Once we started to get the ball in to Syniah (McMiller), that helped, as well.”
A trio of juniors led the Trojans (5-0). Syniah McMiller had 18 points, Brittany Mills had 17 points and Lya Molyneaux had 11 points.
“They play so well together,” Griffin said. “They have fun playing together. And they’re all friends, so they enjoy to see each other do well.”
Madeline Langdon had seven points. Ivanna Jones had two points. Shay Raines and Jamia Harrington had one point apiece.
All nine active members of the roster saw significant playing time for Harnett Central.
“Very big deal to us to get some of those girls who had never played varsity before some more experience,” Griffin said. “It also helps because we have a three-game week this week and a three-game week next week. And so, just to be able to save legs and get everybody in so we hopefully have everybody fresh again Wednesday night and everybody fresh again Friday night.”
Freshman Brooklynn Waller had eight points and junior Alisha Lucas and senior Hannah Harrison had seven points apiece to lead the Rams (1-2).
Nanami Iwata and Meghan Ellenberger had four points apiece and Amber Reynolds and Aajiah Alexander had two points apiece.
Central outscored Cleveland in all four quarters: 11-7 in the first, 16-5 in the second, 17-10 in the third and 13-12 in the fourth. Cleveland never held a lead in the contest.
A second-half rally fell short as Harnett Central fell 68-61 to Cleveland in the boys game.
“We didn’t have many shots that fell in the first half and I thought that our guys battled back time after time,” said Harnett Central boys coach Will Gage. “Especially in the fourth quarter. There were some times when they could have thrown in the towel and it wouldn’t have been much of a game. But I thought we played hard to the end. We just didn’t get many breaks toward the end of the game. If we had shot the ball just average in the first half, I think we would have been sitting in much better shape. I think we shot 0-for-11 from three-point range in the first half. If you make two of those, it’s tied at halftime. It’s good to know on a night where we didn’t shoot it particularly well that we still had a chance.”
Senior Anthony Tomlinson had 22 points and senior Tre Williams had 16 points to lead the Trojans (3-2).
Justin Perkins had eight points. Croix Shipman had five points. Austin Swan and Richard Edwards had four points apiece. Deandre Morris had two points.
Gage was pleased with the effort of Edwards, who missed the first two weeks of the season with an injury, off of the bench.
“I thought he played well,” Gage said. “If he can keep doing that, it’s going to be big for us.”
Walter Ghaffar had 20 points, Austin Robinson had 13 points and Dylan Wiggins and Trey Fields had 11 points apiece to lead the Rams (2-1).
Dylan Smith had eight points, Freddie Thrash had three points and Zach Matthews had two points.
With Cleveland holding a 35-25 lead early in the third quarter, Central scored 13 unanswered points to take the lead. But the Rams finished the quarter on a 13-5 run to lead 48-40 at the end of the third.
Cleveland held its largest lead of the game at 62-48 midway through the fourth when Central rallied with a 13-2 run to cut the lead to three and Cleveland took a timeout with 1:01 left in the quarter.
During the timeout, a technical foul was called against Harnett Central’s bench. Gage said one of the officials explained to him that he had heard someone on the Central bench make a comment critical of the officiating.
Ghaffar made just one of the ensuing free throws, but after the tech, the Rams finished the game on a 4-0 run.
Cleveland is at Corinth Holders on Tuesday and at home against Western Harnett on Friday. Harnett Central travels to West Johnston on Wednesday and South Johnston on Friday.