Harnett Central’s varsity girls basketball team extended its win streak to four straight with a 61-14 rout of visiting South Johnston Tuesday.
“We still won’t talk on defense like I want us to,” said Harnett Central coach Chelsey Cabe. “Since we won’t talk on defense like I want us to, in the very beginning, we let teams get a little bit of confidence and they get a little bit of momentum and it takes us a while to really get going. We’ve got to come out on fire. That’s one thing we’ve really got to focus on, is changing that.”
South Johnston coach Whitney Williams said South struggled against Central’s defensive pressure.
“We started out well,” Williams said. “First quarter, I’m happy with what we gave. But after we got that little bit of pressure coming, we started to give way. We started to break. We’re really working this week on working under pressure, working the ball under pressure. We’ve got to figure out our offense, clearly. Scoring 14 points isn’t enough to win a ball game, so we’ve definitely got to figure out our offense. It’s slow moving. Speed it up. Get it moving. Get our posts moving. And get our rebounds. We definitely got beat on the boards tonight.”
All 10 members of Harnett Central’s roster contributed to the scoring in Tuesday’s game.
“That’s the second time this season,” Cabe said. “That keeps them working hard. You love to see all of your girls. All of them may not score all of the time and all of them may not get the playing time that they want, but they all work so hard every day that it’s nice when you can do that for that to pay off for them.”
Sophomore Brittany Mills led all scorers with 19 points and had six steals and three assists to lead the homestanding Trojans (4-1).
“With every game, Brittany has the skills, but her knowledge is what’s getting better,” Cabe said. “Her realization that she controls the offense, but really she sets the tone for us defensively, as well. The more she matures and learns that, the even better ball player she’s going to be. I was a point guard, so I’m going to be super critical of what she does and I’m really impressed with how far she’s come along just this far in the season.”
Syniah McMiller had nine points, five rebounds and three blocks. Fayth Brown had nine points. Lyanah Molyneaux had five points and three assists. Madeline Langdon had four points and six rebounds. Aleecya Williams had four points and four steals. Zykia Matthews had four points. Marcayla Jones had two points and three steals. Lyndsey Brewer had two points.
Offensive rebounds were a big factor in Central’s favor, as Central collected a total of 12 offensive boards.
“I would say offensive rebounds, especially in the second quarter, really separated us before halftime,” Cabe said. “That’s nice, but that’s got to be consistent through the whole game.”
Miracle Austin had four points, Mattie Wheeles and Kennedy Byrd had three points apiece and Savannah Parker and Emma Jernigan had two points apiece for the visiting Trojans (0-4).
South played well early on the defensive end, but once Central took control, it dominated the contest, outscoring South 16-4 in the first quarter, 19-3 in the second, 16-4 in the third and 10-3 in the fourth.
South Johnston is at unbeaten Midway (6-0) on Thursday. The Raiders won 43-24 at South Johnston in both teams’ season-opener on Nov. 19.
“It’s a mentality thing for them right now,” Williams said. “(South’s record was) 2-23 last year. So, it’s almost like it’s something that’s sunk in for them. Just trying to get them out of that mentality.”
Harnett Central is at home against West Johnston (3-2) on Thursday. Central edged the Wildcats 38-32 at West Johnston on Friday. Central was scheduled to host Cleveland on Friday, but that game has been postponed to Feb. 6 because of the Rams’ football game at Southeast Guilford for the Eastern Regional championship.
“We didn’t play very well against West the other night,” Cabe said. “We have really been focusing on moving the ball against a zone and realizing that you’re not stationary. When you pass the ball, you need to move. So, we’re going to focus on that and hit hard on not getting beat in transition, boxing out and talking on defense.”