Harnett Central opened varsity boys basketball season with a 73-60 win over visiting Western Harnett on Tuesday in the opening round of the Harnett County Tip-off Tournament.
“I thought overall we played like a first game,” said Harnett Central coach Will Gage. “We played very, very sharp at times and like we had never seen a basketball other times. I thought a lot of the times we looked good offensively was off of our defense. And then in the second half, we kind of went to sleep. We got too comfortable when we got a lead and we started rushing shots when we had no reason to rush them and weren’t getting back on defense. It’s the first game. We’ve got to get better. We’re obviously happy to get a win. Happy to get everybody minutes.”
Western Harnett coach Seth Womble cited turnovers and rebounding as key factors in the loss.
“Seventeen first half turnovers. Twenty-two for the game,” Womble said. “Shocking, the difference there between first half and second half. Seventeen in one half is way too many and 22 for a game is way too many. And they had 17 offensive rebounds. I don’t know why, but 17 was the magic number. Seventeen first half turnovers and 17 offensive rebounds. That’s what killed us. Defensively, we can’t give up 70 points a game. I’m happy with what we scored. Offensively, we scored 60 points, but we can’t give up 70. So, we’ve got some rebounding aspects to cover and some defensive aspects to cover. Overall, though, I’m actually kind of pleased for the first game. But we’ve got a lot to work on and if these guys will accept that challenge, we’re going to be fine.”
Senior Anthony Tomlinson paced the Trojans (1-0) with 29 points.
“(Tomlinson) and Tre (Williams), when they’re on, they compliment each other,” Gage said. “I thought that he did a good job. He’s really quick with the basketball and generally he makes good decisions.”
Justin Perkins had 13 points. Tre Williams had 12 points. Croix Shipman had nine points. Khalil Cameron had five points. Austin Swan and Deandre Morris had two points apiece. Ryder Carroll had one point.
The Eagles (0-1) were led by senior Wesley Lassiter, with 15 points, and senior Tyrese Jones, with 13 points.
Sean Moore and Ethan Lank had seven points apiece. Christian Dantzler had six points. Trell Chalmers, Kahlil McLean and Steven Lassiter had four points apiece.
Perkins scored on a put-back at the buzzer to give Central a 14-13 lead at the end of a competitive first quarter. The Trojans led the rest of the game.
After leading 32-23 at halftime, Central came out hot in the third, opening on an 11-5 run to push the lead to 15.
Central led by as much as 22, at 63-41 early in the fourth quarter. Western fought back late in the fourth, cutting the lead to as low as 10, but time ran out on the rally and the Trojans held on for the win.
Western Harnett meets Triton in the boys consolation game at Harnett Central at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday. After that game ends, Harnett Central will host Overhills in the girls championship game at 6:30 and the boys championship at 8:00.
“I don’t know of any area we don’t have to improve on to compete tomorrow,” Gage said. “But one of the biggest things is having to get back in transition. They’re (Overhills) so quick and so athletic, that if we don’t, they’re just going to punish us. I think our defense is going to decide how we’re going to play.”
Overhills has won the last two girls championships and the last six boys championships. Harnett Central has not won the county crown in boys or girls basketball since 2012.