Harnett Central split Tri-County Six 3-A Conference varsity basketball games with visiting Harnett County rival Western Harnett on Wednesday night. The Trojans picked up their first conference win in the girls game and the Eagles got their first win of the season in the boys game.
Harnett Central’s girls bounced back from a tough loss at Triton on Tuesday night with a 54-27 win over Western Harnett Wednesday.
“We’re getting our stride back,” said Harnett Central girls coach Chelsey Cabe. “Conditioning, obviously, they’re struggling with. But you forget how quickly they become undisciplined (while in quarantine for COVID-19 for two weeks prior to Tuesday’s game). When you’re practicing two or three times a week, you constantly stay on them, but we just haven’t had that opportunity. The biggest thing with me tonight was backside rebounds and getting back on rebounds. Our offense was looking better tonight. We’re still getting a little lazy in our mountain cat full-court press (defense), but teams know that we run that. That’s all the more reason you have to be intense. I told the girls it’s like we’re a horse and we’re at a gallop and just can’t quite hit that stride yet.”
A trio of seniors led the Trojans (3-1, 1-1 TCSC) in scoring. Syniah McMiller had 19 points, Brittany Mills had 18 points and Lya Molyneaux had 11 points.
“Syniah took last night as a hard shot to her, especially being a senior,” Cabe said. “She attempted to take a lot of the blame for what happened last night. So, I think she came out of the gate very early wanting to show that she was a force and that she was going to work hard for success for her team. And Brittany’s putting a lot of pressure on herself for perfection and it’s because she wants to be successful so much and she loves basketball so much. I look forward to seeing her kind of give herself a break and play hard and be the player she can be.”
Victoria Langdon, Shynice Raines and Jamia Harrington had two points apiece.
Senior Makyia Mackey, senior Ashanta Williams and freshman Shay McCantis had six points apiece to lead the Eagles (4-3, 1-3).
Makenyia Mackey had three points. Madison Smith, Sydney Jackson and Nadia Hurry had two points apiece.
Central dominated the first half, outscoring Western 16-5 in both the first and second quarters to lead 32-10 at halftime. Western rallied in the third, outscoring Central 11-8. But Central again dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring Western 14-6.
Western Harnett rallied past Harnett Central in the second half, winning 50-44 for its first win of the season.
“This year we’ve been in some games where we’ve played good first halves and bad second halves or good first quarters and bad second quarters,” said Western Harnett boys coach Seth Womble. “In this game, I think we started a little flat, but we played well enough to win. We played a good second half with high energy. And it was tough. First win of the year. Good win. I’m really, really happy for the guys. They worked hard. So, I’m proud of them for that.”
Wednesday’s game was the first for Harnett Central’s boys since Jan. 15 due to being in quarantine for COVID-19. Central’s girls played at Triton Tuesday, but there was no varsity boys game because of Triton’s varsity boys quarantining.
Junior Christian Fielden had 15 points, senior Misha-El Vines had 12 points and senior Ethan Lank had 11 points to pace the Eagles (1-5, 1-3).
“I’m really proud of them,” Womble said. “They’ve stayed up, they’ve stayed positive and they’ve kept it moving in the right direction. We’ve kind of being seeing that the past couple of days. We’ve been trying to get some new positivity and new energy out of these guys. I’m really proud of those three guys.”
Ian Bristow had six points. Sebastian Branford had four points. Josiah Smith had two points.
Junior Seven McClain had nine points and junior Chris Mills had eight points to lead the Trojans (0-3, 0-1).
Cohen Walker and Quez Jones had seven points apiece. Xavier Bailey had five points. Khalil Cameron had four points. Johnathan Patterson and Xavier Harris had two points apiece.
After the first quarter ended in a 9-9 tie, Central went on a 13-6 run through the second quarter to lead 22-15 at halftime.
With Central holding a 27-21 lead late in the third, Western ended the quarter on a 10-4 run, with Fielden hitting a three to tie the game 31-31 at the end of the quarter. He hit a second straight three to open the fourth quarter and give Western the lead for good.
“They had a seven-point lead at halftime and we wanted to try to get it to at least half of that, three or four points, by the first COVID timeout for the masks (at the first dead ball with under 4:00 left each quarter),” Womble said. “I wanted it to be a three- or four-point game at that stretch. It was a six-point game. And so, what happened, with 3:52 left, we outscored them by six points and Christian hit that shot that really gave us some belief. So, when those guys came and it was a tie game at the end of the third quarter, there was just a new light in their eyes. They just had a different sense of urgency. So, it was a big-time momentum shot for us.”
The Eagles started the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run. The Trojans rallied with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to one, but Western finished the game with an 8-3 run.
Western Harnett travels to Southern Lee on Friday to start the second half of its conference schedule.
“We’ve had a rough go of it with those guys,” Womble said. “They’ve been good for a long time. They’ve got a really good coach and a really good program. We gave them a good first half at our place and they took it to us in the second half. If we can handle their pressure a little better, maybe we can change the outcome of that game.”
Harnett Central is at home against conference foe Union Pines on Friday. Central’s boys also have a makeup game at conference and county rival Triton on Saturday.
“You can bet that they’re going to press us,” Cabe said. “We’ve got to take care of the basketball. We’ve got to use pump fakes and be strong with the ball. We’ve got to use triple threat. We’ve got to bring rebounds down and push it out. We can’t allow teams to set up a press against us. Pretty much all the things you talk about fundamentals is what we’ve got to do.”