South Johnston split varsity basketball contests with visiting county foe North Johnston on Friday, with the girls dropping to 1-1 on the season and the boys winning their season opener.
South Johnston routed North Johnston 61-27 in the boys game behind a 29-point effort from senior C.J. Ray.
“It’s early,” said South Johnston boys coach Brody Massengill. “We wanted to play before we played tonight, but it just didn’t work out this week (Clinton canceled a game at Clinton on Wednesday because the Dark Horses are still in the NCHSAA football playoffs). We don’t want to look perfect from the get-go, but I think throughout the game we looked better. We were trying out some different things. Trying out some different lineups to see where guys fit in and different things like that. For us to hold a team to 27 points, we’re as happy as we can be with that. Offensively, we had a lot of turnovers. And we held them to 27, but we fouled a lot. So, we’ve got some things we need to work on.”
Ray had 29 points to lead the Trojans (1-0) and junior Jeremiah McLean also scored in double figures, with 13 points.
“C.J. caught fire in the second half, so offensively that cleaned some things up,” Massengill said. “Everything looks better when it’s going in. I thought Jeremiah played well tonight. He’s long and he does things, like getting deflections, he does things that aren’t on the stat sheet. He does a lot of things that you just don’t pick up.”
Colby Norris had seven points. Thomas Dees and Dylan Bates had three points apiece. Sam Webster and Cole Winborne had two points apiece. Tay Watson and Chase Carroll had one point apiece.
Massengill was pleased to get every active member of the varsity roster playing time during the contest.
“That’s great,” Massengill said. “That keeps guys hungry and keeps them coming back. I do think that we have enough guys to play probably nine or 10 guys a night sometimes. If we can get out early, we can play all 13. Because everybody’s working just as hard in practice as everybody else is. So, that’s a big deal.”
Senior Rakuan Rodrigues had 14 points to pace the Panthers (0-1).
South outscored North in all four quarters: 9-6 in the first quarter, 15-6 in the second, 17-11 in the third and 20-4 in the fourth.
After a competitive first half, South Johnston’s girls struggled in the second half in a 39-24 loss to North Johnston.
“Nothing was going our way (in the second half),” said South Johnston girls coach Whitney Williams. “We couldn’t score, obviously. We didn’t score in the third quarter. The biggest things is our girls get in their own heads easy. They get down a few points and they panic. We’ve got to figure out a way around that.”
Senior Kaylee Creech led the Trojans (1-1) with 10 points.
Janay McDonald had six points. Jenna Brown had three points. Katon Blackmon and McKinley Sills had two points apiece. Nikki Lee had one point.
South shot a dismal 5-for-20 (25 percent) at the free throw line.
“That’s a really big factor for us,” Williams said. “That’s definitely a killer in a close ball game or even a ball game like that.”
The Trojans were without sophomore Shay Ward, their leading scorer and rebounder in a 58-41 win at Clinton on Wednesday, because of a leg injury.
Junior Arial Pearce had 13 points to lead the Panthers (1-0).
South trailed 11-10 at the end of a competitive first half, but North went on a 9-2 run through the third quarter and outscored South 13-7 in the fourth.
South Johnston is at home against Southern Lee on Tuesday.