Celebrating Senior Night on Tuesday, Harnett Central split varsity basketball games against visiting Tri-County Six 3-A Conference foe Southern Lee, with the Trojans winning the girls game and the Cavaliers winning the boys contest.
Harnett Central’s girls celebrated “Madeline Langdon Night,” as Langdon is the lone senior on the girls team, with a 49-24 rout against Southern Lee.
“I just thought we really had to come out strong,” Langdon said. “Especially with it being Senior Night, just a big night in general for everyone. Our shots weren’t really falling and we were kind of slacking on defense, so we just trying to get some shots in and push the intensity.”
Harnett Central girls coach Chelsey Cabe was pleased with the win, but wanted to see more improvement on the defensive end.
“I hold the girls to a really high standard,” Cabe said. “And in the game we played against Lee County last night (a 71-37 win at Lee), I really feel like we took leaps and bounds in our defense in the second half. And so, to come out tonight and not play with that same intensity. I know it’s their second game and we’ve got three games this week, but I just have high expectations for them and when you make such giant leaps forward, you just want to see them stay at that and continue to progress. I guess that’s where my frustration came from tonight. Not necessarily that they didn’t play defense, just that they didn’t play it to the level I know they’re capable of. And the small things. I’m real big on talking and aggressiveness. Progress that needs to be made, but overall I think they’ve stopped being satisfied and they’re finally moving forward as a team.”
Southern Lee had no answers in the paint for junior Syniah McMiller, as she scored more points than the Cavaliers combined. McMiller had 25 points to pace the Trojans (16-4, 7-2 TCSC).
“Coach Cabe told me that I had to stop fading away from contact and just keep going in,” McMiller said. “Yesterday we learned that work. So, today I just started going into contact more so we scored more. It makes me feel good that I can contribute to the team like that and carry momentum on the floor.”
“Syniah is maturing into the player I think we’ve all known she was going to be,” Cabe said. “I think she is realizing what a strength she is offensively and defensively. I really complimented her on finally doing the small things. When she gets a rebound, she’s not bringing it down, she’s pivoting out, she’s staying strong with two hands. She’s staying wide in the paint. She’s keeping her head on a swivel. She’s just progressing and she’s finally taking all these things we’ve talked about for three years and putting it into practice. To see a player grow like that is so much fun as a coach.”
Langdon had one of her best nights as a Trojan on her Senior Night, also scoring in double figures with 11 points.
“It makes me feel good that one of my big nights was on Senior Night,” Langdon said. “It kind of makes it feel more special. I just decided to come out and play the best I could and make sure everyone had a good game.”
“She hit some big shots,” Cabe said. “At times where we hadn’t had a basket for two or three points, here comes Madeline hustling after a rebound, gets it out of everybody and puts it up strong. She hit several 15-foot jump shots that were big for us when we needed a boost.”
Brittany Mills had eight points, Lya Molyneaux had three points and Shynice Raines had two points.
Senior Myah Ainsworth had 10 points and senior Janiya McDougald had eight points to lead the Cavaliers (5-18, 3-6).
Prior to the girls game, Harnett Central honored lone girls basketball senior Madeline Langdon and six senior cheerleaders: Megan Patterson, Noel Lanier, Brooke Honeycutt, Abbey Ellington, Kelly Irvin and Aryana Williams.
“I really can’t say enough about Madeline,” Cabe said. “She’s what you want when you have a high school athlete come in. She contributes to every program. She plays all three seasons (Langdon also plays volleyball and soccer). She’s a silent leader. She leads by action and example instead of words. All the girls know they can rely on her. And she’s just a solid, constant role player. She’s going to do anything you ask her to. She’s amazingly smart. I’m thankful that she’s given us four years and I know that she’ll be successful.”
The Trojans outscored the Cavaliers in all four quarters: 8-4 in the first quarter, 16-9 in the second, 10-5 in the third and 15-6 in the fourth.
The boys game was competitive early before Southern Lee, which has already clinched the regular season conference championship, pulled away from Harnett Central to take a 72-51 win.
“In the first half when it was a game, I thought we were playing well at both ends,” said Harnett Central boys coach Will Gage. “Defense has consistently set the tone for us over the course of the season. When we play defense, we’re in games and on nights where we don’t, we’re not. And I felt like last night (a 68-63 loss at Lee County) we played defense well at times, but not consistently over four quarters. And I thought in the first half tonight we did a fairly good job, but after that, I thought that was the undoing of us. I thought the guys that got in there played hard, but you’re playing against a very athletic team and they don’t make mistakes. You’ve got to shoot the ball well and you’ve got to play defense. And we didn’t shoot the ball well consistently for four quarters and we didn’t play defense for four quarters. But we played hard to the end.”
Senior Tre Williams had 16 points, five rebounds, three steals and two blocks and senior Anthony Tomlinson had 10 points and five rebounds to lead the Trojans (10-10, 4-5).
Justin Perkins had eight points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Austin Swan had four points and two blocks. Croix Shipman, Jackson Jones and Khalil Cameron had three points apiece. Richard Edwards had two points and two blocks. Deandre Morris had two points.
Freshman MaKyi Butler had 19 points, senior Se’Vion Clay had 17 points and junior Quashawn Williams had 14 points to lead the Cavaliers (13-9, 9-0).
Prior to the game, Harnett Central honored eight senior members of the boys basketball team: Austin Swan, Tre Williams, Anthony Tomlinson, Croix Shipman, Richard Edwards, Jackson Jones, Justin Perkins and Deandre Morris.
“They’ve just done an outstanding job,” Gage said. “Perk’s been varsity for four years. That’s says a lot these days to be able to do that. Anthony went from not even being a double figures scorer last year to over 20 a game this year. He’s picked up the slack from a lot of people that we lost. It is a good group. We knew coming in that the core nucleus was going to be seniors. I think the nights we’ve done well have been when they’ve done well.”
The game was close until, holding a 23-18 lead in the second quarter, Southern Lee finished the quarter on an 11-4 run to lead 34-22 at the half.
After Southern Lee outscored Harnett Central 21-10 in the third quarter, the Trojans put up a strong effort in the fourth, outscoring the Cavaliers 19-17, but were unable to rally from the deficit.
Harnett Central wraps up the regular season on the road against conference and Harnett County rival Triton for the Hawks’ Senior Night on Friday.
“It’s a rivalry game and it’s going to be a great atmosphere,” Gage said. “We’ve got to come in there and just remember that defense is going to set the tone. If we play well defensively, I think we’ve got a chance.”
The No. 2 seed, and the first-round bye that comes with it, is on the line in the girls game. A Central win would see the Trojans finish alone in second place. A Triton win would tie the Hawks and Trojans for second, but the Hawks would have the tiebreaker, as it would be their second win over the Trojans this season.
“I wasn’t a part of the last time they played Triton,” Cabe said. “But I will say that I think that we’ve got a sour taste in our mouth and I hope that they come with that and they act upon it and they play Harnett Central Lady Trojans basketball. I believe if we do that, it will be a good game.”