A late surge at the end of a back-and-forth battle lifted Smithfield-Selma to a 66-59 nonconference varsity boys basketball win at Triton on Wednesday night as the Spartans stayed unbeaten.
“One thing I say every year: Going into each quarter, I want them to take pride in their defense and try to give up less than 10 points in a quarter,” said Triton coach T.J. Morrison. “We started off and I looked up at nine points with about 1:40 left in the first quarter and I thought, ‘If we could get a stop here and hold them under 10.’ And we gave up two buckets. We gave up 13, which was a little disappointing, but then in the second quarter, we gave up 26 and you can’t win basketball games giving up 26 points in a quarter.”
“I loved the resiliency. We came back in the third quarter and gave up nine. So, we were fighting back and in the game and had our chances. But I feel like we grew up. I feel like we’re a much different and even better team than we were last Friday. Looking forward to practice tomorrow and then we’ve got a chance to play Southern Lee in a conference game.”
The varsity girls game was canceled because Smithfield-Selma’s varsity girls are in quarantine for COVID-19.
Senior Dalen Thompson recorded a double-double, with 15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Sophomore Will Heard had 13 points and sophomore Nate McKoy had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Hawks (1-2).
Jalen Evans and Sabine Wheeler had five points apiece. Jamari Amerson had three points. Xavion Richardson, Hayden Pope and Diontae Smith had two points apiece.
Senior Dylan Gottuso had 17 points, junior Jaylen White had 14 points and senior Devon Jaylyn had 10 points to pace the Spartans (4-0).
The Spartans hit 10 three-pointers in the contest, led by five from Gottuso.
“They shot the ball really well, but I would also say that some of those, in my opinion, were bad shots and those tend to bite you,” Morrison said. “You take a bad shot at a bad time and miss long and I think that actually helped us get back in it. To some extent, I think it helped us get back in it when they made decisions, but it did hurt us when they made big shots.”
Triton started the game with a 16-6 run to take the early lead before a Gottuso three started Smithfield-Selma on a 22-2 run, that started in the first quarter and ended in the second, to take a 28-18 lead. The Spartans led 39-31 at halftime.
With Smithfield-Selma leading 43-33 early in the third quarter, Triton rallied with a 13-2 run, taking the lead on a score from Thompson late in the third. The Hawks maintained a one-point lead, leading 49-48 at the end of the third.
After Zach McNeill scored to put the Spartans back in front, Heard responded with a three to give Triton a 52-50 lead. But Gottuso responded with a three to start the Spartans on a 16-4 run, giving them a lead the Hawks were unable to overcome.
Triton returns to Tri-County Six 3-A Conference play at home against Southern Lee on Friday.
The Hawks opened league play with a 64-54 win at Lee County on Tuesday night as Heard had 14 points. Amerson scored 13 and Thompson tallied 11. McKoy contributed nine points, Harris Pope netted eight, Evans added five and Richardson finished with four. Evans totaled six assists.
“Sometimes Southern Lee will actually do a little half-court trap (defense) and we saw one tonight some,” Morrison said. “I hope that we’ll be able to practice that some tomorrow and be ready for it Friday. Southern Lee will be athletic and they’ve got a great coach, so it’ll be a tall order.”