Harnett Central split nonconference varsity basketball games with visiting Cleveland on Wednesday night, with Central’s girls and Cleveland’s boys completing season sweeps.
Harnett Central routed Cleveland 52-21 in the girls game.
“It’s hard when you play two nights in a row (Central won 53-19 at Western Harnett the night before),” said Harnett Central girls coach Chelsey Cabe. “I know the wins look like a large deficit, but it took us a while to really get going last night. And then, your legs. Once your legs don’t get under you, you get tired. Offensively, I think we just needed a day off.”
The Trojans (14-5) were led by a pair of sophomores. Syniah McMiller had a double-double, with 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Brittany Mills had 12 points and three steals.
“Syniah is learning how to use her body,” Cabe said. “She’s learning how to really post somebody up. I don’t know why for the longest time it was like Syniah think she’s a guard. She’d post a girl, but drop back and fade away. Now she’s realized she can score 20 points a game if she’ll make a real post move and go into contact. For the last four games, she’s really started to go into contact and make post moves.”
Fayth Brown had nine points, four rebounds and three assists. Keanna Womble had eight points and eight rebounds. Marcayla Jones had two points and six rebounds. Lyanah Molyneaux had two points, four rebounds and three assists. Zykia Matthews had one point and four rebounds. Madeline Langdon had six rebounds.
Central was once again without senior Lyndsey Brewer because of a knee injury suffered against Lee County Friday. Central will know more about her status after she undergoes a reevaluation Thursday.
Cabe was pleased with Central’s offensive rebounding, but thought the defensive rebounding could have been better.
“We did a good job on the offensive boards, but we allowed them to have too many second-chance opportunities,” Cabe said. “In the first half, eight of their 10 points came off of offensive rebounds. That’s hustle and heart. I love that we’re working hard on the offensive end to get the rebound, but we’ve got to do a better job on the defensive rebounds. And Lyndsey being gone, she averages seven rebounds a game. That’s part of it missing, too.”
Alisha Lucas had five points, Haley Hamlin, Aajiah Alexander and Joi’e Washington-Robinson had four points apiece, Camilla Setrango had two points and Hannah Harrison and Mariah Ailes had one point apiece for the Rams (3-17).
Central outscored Cleveland in all four quarters: 19-8 in the first, 9-2 in the second, 15-4 in the third and 9-7 in the fourth.
Cleveland rallied past Harnett Central in the second half of the boys game to win 56-54.
“For the most part, we did a decent job in the first half,” said Harnett Central boys coach Will Gage. “There was a couple of times we probably could have converted, but we didn’t. But, in the second half, we came out flat. I thought it was going to come down to 50/50 balls and I thought it was going to come down to playing defense and I don’t think either one of them we excelled at in the second half. I will give our guys credit. Who would have thought with 20 or 30 seconds left that we’d have a shot at it at the end? We missed some shots we typically would make in the second half and hurt ourselves on a couple of occasions. We’ve just got to learn from it.”
Senior Kasey Perkins had 19 points and six rebounds, senior Chase Mullins had 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks and junior Trevonne Williams had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists to lead the Trojans (11-8).
Croix Shipman had three points. Anthony Tomlinson had two points and five rebounds. Jaden Meadows had two points. Justin Perkins had one point and five rebounds.
The Rams (9-11) were led by a pair of seniors, as Hamilton Harrison had 20 points and Joi Williams had 14 points.
Zach Matthews had nine points, Jaylon Ruffin had six points, Deon Williams had four points and Dawson Smith had three points.
After Harnett Central took a 30-18 lead into halftime, Cleveland went on a 16-4 run to tie the game in the third quarter before Kasey Perkins hit a three at the buzzer to give Central a 37-34 lead.
In the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, a pair of Harrison free throws gave the Rams a 56-51 lead. With 3.6 seconds left, Kasey Perkins was fouled while scoring and made the ensuing free throw to cut the lead to two and Cleveland committed a turnover on the inbounds pass, giving Central one last chance. But the Trojans were unable to get a clean shot off and the Rams escaped with the win.
Harnett Central resumes Tri-County Six 3-A Conference play on Friday at Southern Lee. The winner of the boys game will take sole possession of first place heading into the final week of the regular season.
“We’ve got to have quality possessions,” Gage said. “Whether we make it or we miss it, we’ve got to take good shots. And we’ve got to do a better job getting back in transition.”