South Johnston started hot and finished strong in a 69-34 varsity boys basketball win at Midway Tuesday to complete a season sweep over the Raiders and remain unbeaten on the year.
“I was glad we got off to a hot start,” said South Johnston coach Brody Massengill. “We finally made some shots tonight, I felt like. C.J. (Ray) was a constant in there again for us. It was real good for our guys for everybody to get some playing time. Defensively I thought we played real well tonight. I thought we forced them to take some tough shots and we got rebounds when we needed to. And we made shots. Everything looks better when the ball’s going in.”
Midway coach Joseph Easley cited a loss of focus in the second half.
“We lost our mental focus, I think, at halftime,” Easley said. “We competed in the second quarter and I thought we came out of the locker room (for the second half) and we just weren’t there mentally. Two nights ago, we scored 81 points against Princeton (an 85-81 road loss) and we fought and didn’t let up. We didn’t do that tonight and I think that’s why you saw a 14-point deficit climb to 30-something at the end. We’ve got to keep our mental focus for four quarters. We’ve addressed it and we’re trying to fix it.”
A pair of juniors led the scoring for the Trojans (5-0), as C.J. Ray had 20 points and Thomas Dees had 12 points.
“This was probably the best game Thomas has had,” Massengill said. “He shows up in the score column with 12, but the things he did on the defensive end. I would really love to watch the film and see how many times he got deflections and steals. I know he dove on the floor and got us a loose ball one time. We need people like that each game to be that guy that comes in and makes plays and it was Thomas’ night.”
Cole Winborne had nine points. JaQuain Smith had seven points. Sam Webster and Jackson Raynor had six points apiece. Jacob Thornton had three points. Colby Norris and Austin Denning had two points apiece. David Honeycutt and Clayton Blackman had one point apiece.
Junior Jamar Autry paced the Raiders (3-4) with 18 points.
“We’ve got to share the ball better, but we know we have to get the ball to Jamar,” Easley said. “Jamar needs to be taking the shots, but it’s got to be a give it up, give it back kind of thing. Not just hang on for the entire possession and hope that he’s good enough to go one-on-five. We’ve got to stop playing ‘hero basketball’ and we’ve got to come together as a team. We’ve just got to better understand our playbook, play better team basketball, start trusting each other and feed Jamar, because he’s one of our better players.”
Hykeem Raines had six points, Zack Fann had four points and Tony Pena and Jaden Covington had three points apiece.
Midway was without senior point guard Bryson Core due to illness.
Despite some troubles in the second quarter, South outscored Midway in all four quarters: 19-8 in the first, 14-11 in the second, 21-9 in the third and 15-6 in the fourth.
Midway travels to rival Triton (2-2) Friday and South Johnston is at Western Harnett (1-5) Tuesday.