Harnett Central took a Tri-County Six 3-A Conference varsity basketball sweep at conference and county rival Western Harnett on Tuesday night, with both the boys and girls teams taking a regular-season sweep over Western.
Harnett Central’s girls turned in a strong performance in a 53-19 rout of Western Harnett.
“Offensively we couldn’t get anything going,” said Western Harnett girls coach Matthew Smith. “I’m really proud of the girls. The last two games I feel like we played the best two teams in the conference (Union Pines and Harnett Central) and we have come and shown that defensively we can do it, in spurts tonight. But we have come so far. I would love to score 80 points a game, but it’s probably not going to happen. So, what we’re going to do is work on what we can do and hopefully the offense will come through that. But I’m proud of these girls. Over the past years, Western Harnett has struggled and these girls have busted their butts trying to turn the program around.”
Senior Fayth Brown had 17 points and sophomore Brittany Mills had 15 points, nine rebounds and four steals to pace the Trojans (13-5, 6-1 TCSC).
“I tell Brittany all the time that I probably don’t give her as much praise as I should,” said Harnett Central girls coach Chelsey Cabe. “She plays the position that I did (point guard) and it’s the hardest position on the floor, in my opinion, because everybody is looking to you. I thought she did a great job taking care of the basketball tonight. I thought she did a good job of pushing up the floor and knowing when to pull back. I thought she did a good job of penetrating the gaps against a zone for them to have to foul her or for her to dish off. I thought she did a really good job commanding the floor on offense against their defense tonight.”
Syniah McMiller had six points, eight rebounds, three assists and 12 blocks. Keanna Womble had six points and four rebounds. Lyanah Molyneaux had four points and five rebounds. Aleecya Williams had three points. Marcayla Jones had two points and six rebounds. Madeline Langdon had four rebounds.
Central was without senior Lyndsey Brewer because of a knee injury sustained against Lee County Friday.
Senior Lahaina “LaLa” Bell had 10 points to lead the Eagles (9-11, 2-5), Taija Pruitt had four points, Emonni Barber and Morgan McInnis had two points apiece and Makyia Mackey had one point.
Western took an early 4-0 lead as Central shot cold to start the game, but a three from Brown sparked a 13-2 run to end the first quarter.
“Fayth was the defensive and offensive push when we were struggling in the first quarter,” Cabe said. “Had it not been for her effort and her scoring, I don’t know what else would have got us going so that we would have played the way we played the rest of the game.”
Central led the rest of the way, outscoring Western 13-8 in the second quarter, 12-3 in the third and 15-2 in the fourth.
Harnett Central dominated the fourth quarter to take a 68-52 win over Western Harnett in the boys game.
“I thought we responded very well in the second half,” said Harnett Central boys coach Will Gage. “I thought they just outplayed us in the first half. We talked about something we thought was critical was the 50/50 balls and I felt like they beat us to the spot time and time again in the first half. What we talked about at halftime was, ‘You can’t do one thing to turn it around. You’ve got to make shots, you’ve got to take smart shots and you’ve got get back and play defense.’ And I thought, for the most part, we did that. I told them at halftime that I thought the defense was going to make a difference in the second half and that if we played it, we had a chance.”
Western Harnett boys coach Seth Womble cited defensive struggles in the fourth quarter as a difference-maker.
“We played well,” Womble said. “We had a great first half and a good little game plan. We had a decent third quarter. They outscored us by six, I think, so they were up two and then transition D got us. They go on a little run and we’ve got to get a stop. Our offensive possessions weren’t bad. We were getting good looks. But we’ve got to get stops. They were getting layups. They were getting offensive rebounds. They were getting put-backs. We never got the stops we needed.”
Four players scored in double figures to lead the Trojans (11-7, 6-1). Senior Chase Mullins had 15 points, junior Anthony Tomlinson had 12 points and junior Trevonne Williams and senior Jaden Meadows had 10 points apiece.
“(Meadows) is a great athlete and did a great job when he got into scoring position,” Gage said. “He just got it and scored and didn’t put the ball on the floor or anything. You know what you’re going to get. He’s going to play hard. He rebounds bigger than he is. He picked us up big time in the first half.”
Justin Perkins had eight points, Kasey Perkins had seven points, Croix Shipman had four points and Hayden Smith had two points.
Junior Wesley Lassiter had 15 points to pace the Eagles (6-14, 2-5).
Kahlil McLean had nine points. Tyrese Jones had eight points. Tre’ Richardson had seven points. Tay Davis had five points. Tobias Dillard had four points. Caleb Smith and Steven Lassiter had two points apiece.
Western was without senior Anthony Brewington. Womble was pleased with the effort of the players that stepped up in his stead.
“We’ve got a team that’s got some athletes,” Womble said. “Kahlil McLean stepped up and had a very great game. Tyrese plays great defense and is a good driver. And Wesley can shoot the basketball and Tre’s one of our leading scorers. And then we’ve got Toby down there with great footwork when he catches the basketball and he’s a shot blocker.”
The first half was competitive, with Western leading 16-12 at the end of the first quarter and 31-27 at halftime.
Central opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run to turn its four-point deficit into a four-point lead and maintained a 45-39 lead at the end of the quarter.
“We came out flat and looked like we had expended a lot of energy in the first half,” Womble said. “For some reason we come out flat sometimes in the third quarter. We know we’re going to respond. This team has zero quit. But, in order to beat a team like this or any team in our conference, we can’t come out flat. We’ve got to come out just like we start the game.”
Holding a 50-47 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Central finished strong, ending the game on an 18-5 run.
Harnett Central is at home in nonconference play against Cleveland tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 6) before returning to conference play at Southern Lee on Friday night, with first place on the line in the boys game. Western Harnett is at home against conference and county rival Triton on Friday night.