LANDIS — There was plenty of good news from South Rowan’s corner Tuesday night.
The Raiders held Statesville senior Josh Gaither to eight points, teammate Jaquan Warren below his season average and boasted a four-point lead late in the first half.
The bad news is they were still smoked, 76-56, by the NPC leaders.
“I really thought we had them after that first half,” losing coach Bryan Withers said after South (9-8, 3-3) hung with the visiting Greyhounds for more than two quarters. “I saw some good stuff. The problem is, I saw us run out of gas too. We didn’t make the same plays we made in the first half.”
South made enough of them in the second period to wipe out an early 25-12 deficit. Senior Eric Tyler said the Raiders were simply following their script and executing their game plan.
“We attacked well off the screen,” he said. “The kicks were open and we went right at them.”
It was Tyler who drained a 3-pointer from the right side to draw SR within 27-24 with 5:34 remaining in the half. Moments later Dalton Carter jumped off the bench and hit a 12-foot jumper to tie the score 28-28.
“As good as that felt,” sophomore teammate Qwantarius Rhyne noted, “we still felt we could do better.”
When Rhyne found a seam and scored on a fastbreak layup with 3:31 on the clock, the Raiders had their first lead.
He followed that one by converting both ends of a one-and-one.
“We never could find our rhythm,” SHS coach Sonny Scofield said after the Hounds (11-2, 5-0) remained unbeaten in league play. “The foul bug hit us in the first half and they were able to stay in the game by making free throws. But it’s all about rhythm for us — and once we found it there was no stopping us.”
Statesville’s rhythm had South singing the blues by the middle of the third quarter. It knocked down three long balls in the period, including two bh junior Kender Thompson, and raced to a 59-49 lead.
“They became more aggressive because they came out (of their locker room) mad,” Withers said. “And we started turning the ball over in bad places — two-on-ones, three-on-twos. When you allow a team like that to outrun you because you’re not taking care of the ball, they’re gonna jump all over you.”
South failed to make a field goal in the fourth quarter and faded quickly. Warren led all scorers with 23 points, but saw little action in the second half and fouled out in the waning moments.
“He’s easily the best athlete in this conference,” Withers said. “He can do things you don’t see other high school players do.”
When it ended Tyler had the most telling observation. “The bottom line is wins and losses,” he said. “There’s no third column for playing a good game.”
STATESVILLE (76) — Warren 23, Willis 14, Thompson 11, Borders 8, Gaither 8, Daniels 7, Williams 5.
SOUTH ROWAN (56) — Rhyne 13, Spry 12,, Tyler 8, Hill 6, Medlin 5, Holbrooks 4, Carter 4, Goldston 3, Wesley 1, Ouillette.
Statesville 25 13 21 17 — 76
S. Rowan 17 19 13 7 — 56