South Johnston dropped a pair of Greater Neuse 3-A Conference varsity basketball contests to visiting Cleveland on Senior Night on Thursday.
South gave a strong effort in the girls game, but a late push gave Cleveland a 37-34 win.
“My girls came out with the right mindset and played hard,” said South girls coach Latissa Hampton. “Some things didn’t go our way tonight, but we continued to give 110 percent, and that’s all I can ask for as a coach.”
Senior Kelly Dorman had 14 points, six assists and six steals to lead the Trojans (2-20, 0-10 GNC).
Kaylee Creech and Janay McDonald had five points apiece. Carmen Keene had four points and eight rebounds. McKinley Sills had four points. Katon Blackmon had two points.
“Everybody has a role,” Hampton said. “Even when they are not on the floor, they are able to come in and fill in like they were a starter. That’s what we need to do with our rotation and it worked tonight.”
The Rams (6-18, 2-8) were led by Kailjn Williamson, with 13 points, and Jaeda Scott, with 12.
Prior to the game, South recognized three seniors: Kelly Dorman, Iceyanna Spruill and Lizzie Raynor.
The game was closely contested throughout.
Early in the fourth, South held a 28-25 lead, but a 10-0 run put Cleveland in front for good.
Cleveland boys close out strong
A strong finish helped Cleveland take a 64-57 win in the boys game.
“I feel like this has kind of been the story with this group all year,” said South boys coach Brody Massengill. “About every game we’ve played it’s been close. A couple of bounces our way and we could have won more than 10 games. But, this is my eighth year here and I’ve seen this story play out. With a young group, we lose some close games and they seem to build on that each year when they come back. The thing I’m proud about is they show no quit in them. Even when it doesn’t go their way sometimes, they’re still getting after it.”
C.J. Ray had 20 points, JaQuain Smith had 16 and Jacob Thornton had 13 to lead the Trojans (10-13, 2-8).
Also for South, Clayton Blackman had four points and Cale Matthews and DeAngelo Smith had two points apiece.
Josh Marlowe paced the Rams (9-15, 5-5) with 23 points.
Prior to the game, South honored three seniors: Markayle McClain, DeAngelo Smith and Cale Matthews, as well as senior manager Devin Theodore.
The contest was a back-and-forth battle all the way to the end of the fourth quarter.
Late in the fourth, a pair of Ray free throws brought the Trojans to within one, with Cleveland leading 55-54. But the Rams ended the game on 9-3 run, including going 7-for-8 at the free throw line.
“We’ve just got to keep playing,” Massengill said. “We’ve got to find a way to keep our confidence up. They weren’t defeated in the locker room right then. They played hard. We didn’t finish when we needed to finish some buckets. We’re just going to keep playing hard and see what happens.”
South’s lone win of the evening was recorded by the junior varsity girls, who claimed their second straight conference championship.