South Johnston split a pair of competitive varsity basketball games against visiting nonconference opponent Corinth Holders on Wednesday, as the Pirates won the girls game, but the Trojans took the boys contest.
South Johnston rallied past Corinth Holders in the fourth quarter to take a 73-66 win in the boys game.
“We pieced something together,” said South Johnston boys coach Brody Massengill. “That’s about all we did. I didn’t like our energy. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. It was sort of unusual for us, because we had to win by speeding it up, which we do not like to do. But it worked out in our favor.
“We got some turnovers in the second half and made some things happen. But that’s two games in a row in the first half we’ve just been very flat. I’ll take responsibility for that, too. We’ve got to be better coming out to start the game.”
Senior C.J. Ray, despite being limited by foul trouble, had 23 points and junior Jeremiah McLean had 20 points to lead the Trojans (11-1).
“Jeremiah really helped us out of a bind,” Massengill said. “He was our guy that got us back in it. Jeremiah scoring 20 points is big thing for us. That’s a real big deal.”
Massengill said junior Jonathan Watts and senior Austin Denning provided a spark off the bench for South. Watts had nine points in the contest and Denning had five.
“Watts has been giving us some good minutes,” Massengill said. “Austin has been sick, so he kind of fell out of the rotation and he’s trying to work his way back in, but he had two really good days of practice which kind of put him in the spot here.”
Dylan Bates had six points. Thomas Dees and Colby Norris had five points apiece.
Four players scored in double figures to lead the Pirates (1-11). Senior Justin Stephens had 15 points and senior Gabriel Brewington, senior Marcus Bland and junior Jack Morgan had 14 points apiece.
After the teams stalemated 17-17 in the first quarter, Corinth outscored South 18-16 in the second quarter to lead 35-33 at halftime.
The Pirates opened the third quarter on an 11-3 run to build the lead to 10, but South responded with 13 unanswered points, tying the game 46-46 on a score from Watts. After Morgan gave Corinth the lead back with a three, Watts scored again to cut it to 49-48 at the end of the third quarter.
South opened the fourth on an 8-3 run to reclaim the lead. Late in the quarter, with south holding a 58-57 lead, a 6-2 run pushed the lead to five. Coming out of a timeout with 1:02 left in the fourth, Bland was called for an intentional foul against Ray. He made both of the ensuing free throws and on the extra possession, Bates was fouled and made both of his shots at the line. After a turnover, Ray was fouled again and made another free throw to push the lead to 10, putting the game out of reach.
South Johnston put together a strong defensive effort, but could not find enough offense to overcome Corinth Holders in a 42-33 loss in the girls game.
“I definitely think tonight was one of our better nights defensively,” said South Johnston girls coach Whitney Williams. “We ended up going past them two points, but our shots stopped falling there in the end. Just not our night on the shots and we missed a few key rebounds at the end.”
Senior McKinley Sills paced the Trojans (3-7) with eight points.
“Feeding McKinley inside is what we’ve been trying to work on,” Williams said. “When she’s on, she’s on and I think she did a good job at finishing.”
Janay McDonald and Jenna Brown had seven points apiece. Katon Blackmon and Kaylee Creech had four points apiece. Kennedy Byrd had three points.
The Pirates (6-6) were led by junior Crawford Ramsey, with 15 points, and senior Deonna Adams, with 11 points.
After the Pirates took a 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, South outscored Corinth 8-7 in the second to cut the lead to 19-14 at halftime.
The Trojans opened the third quarter with six unanswered points to briefly take the lead, but Corinth responded with a 7-0 run and held the lead the rest of the way.
South Johnston starts Greater Neuse 3-A Conference play at home against Johnston County rival Clayton on Friday night.