Saints exorcise Demons
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 25, 2004 1:57 PM
DUDLEY -- Since his freshman year, Southern Wayne sophomore Akeem Royal has always had the ability to be an outside shooting threat. The issue was knowing a good shot from a bad one.
Royal certainly cashed in big on a number of good looks Tuesday night.
Southern Wayne's Ted Benton goes to the hoop over several Wilson Fike players, including Octavious Young, back, and Dequan Battle, right. Saint teammate Artimus Quick moves to avoid his teammate.
The sophomore guard knocked down his first six from behind the three-point arch as the Saints posted a huge first-half run and ran away with an 80-50 win over Wilson Fike at home in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A sectional No. 2 playoffs.
Royal finished with 28 points on the night, drilling eight 3-pointers, while also grabbing eight rebounds.
"When I came in as a freshman, I shot the ball every time I got it in my hands," Royal said. "He (coach Michael Olliver) always pulled me aside and showed me I needed to look at the clock and the situation; and I'm just now realizing what's a good shot and what's a bad shot."
The Saints, the two-time defending Eastern Carolina Conference tournament champions, travel to Jacksonville White Oak for a 7 p.m. game Thursday. The Vikings, coached by former Southern Wayne player Greg Grantham, finished as the top 3-A seed out of the Mideastern 3-A/4-A Conference.
Fike concluded its season 12-14 after finishing third in the Big Eight North Conference.
"We missed our assignments on defense and they just opened up the game," Fike coach George Drawhorn said. "It just puts you in a deep hole."
Royal's sharp shooting was complemented Tuesday by stout perimeter defense by Derrick Garris and Austin Hood. Ted Benton, Artimus Quick and Justin Monroe -- along with Royal -- contained the Golden Demon wings and post players.
During a nine-minute, 43-second stretch of the first half, Fike went without a field goal. Southern Wayne controlled the defensive glass as its momentum and lead continued to climb.
"It's our defense. If we play defense the way we are capable we are going to win the ball game," Southern Wayne coach Michael Olliver said. "I had seen them on tape, and I knew they had a couple of guys who could shoot the ball and the rest liked to penetrate.
"I knew if we contained them from penetrating then we would be fine defensively."
Offensively, Royal carried the load early, but Drawhorn increased the attention on the sophomore in the second half and went with more man-to-man looks. The Saints countered by spreading the floor and putting the ball in the hands of guards Garris, Benton and Hood, who were able to penetrate against the Fike guards and find the open man.
Garris finished with six assists as Benton and Hood dished out four each.
Monroe, who specifically benefited from their passing, put the finishing touches on an impressive first half with a driving, baseline dunk that put the Saints up 35-21 with 30 seconds left in the half. Monroe dropped in 22 points and pulled down eight boards.
"I knew the middle was going to be open like it was against Goldsboro, so we just exploited the middle," Olliver said. "I can't say enough about Justin Monroe. He's coming off the bench and giving us some things we didn't have early in the season."
Facing a desperate Fike squad, Southern Wayne never let the lead slip below 20 in the early stages of the second half as Royal drilled his final three of the game at the third-period buzzer to increase the margin to 55-34.
Both teams combined to commit 50 fouls and shot 63 foul shots. Southern Wayne, which made 24-of-38 at the line on the game, spent most of the final period at the free throw line. The Saints cashed in on 17-of-26 in the fourth.
Marcus Johnson and Tony Whitelow led Fike with 11 points each.
2004 N.C. High School
Athletic Association Class 3-A
Sectional No. 2 playoffs
(at So. Wayne HS, Dudley)
Wilson Fike 13 8 13 16 -- 50
Southern Wayne 23 12 20 25 -- 80
WILSON FIKE (12-14)
Marcus Johnson 2 0 7-9 11, Tony Whitelow 1 3 0-1 11, Donovan Jones 2 0 2-3 6, D.J. Hall 1 1 0-2 5, Dequan Boyette 1 0 2-4 4, Monquel Peques 1 0 1-4 3, Chris Strickland 1 0 1-2 3, Connor Bedgood 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 10 4 13-25 50.
SOUTHERN WAYNE (15-11)
Akeem Royal 1 8 2-2 28, Justin Monroe 8 1 3-3 22, Ted Benton 2 0 5-8 9, Jacobe Graham 1 1 2-3 7, Chris Robinson 0 0 5-10 5, Artimus Quick 1 0 1-2 3, Derrick Garris 0 0 3-4 3, Antonio Davis 0 0 2-2 2, Delawn Armwood 0 0 1-4 1. TOTALS -- 13 10 24-38 80.
Three-point baskets -- Fike 4 (Whitelow 3, Hall), Southern Wayne 10 (Royal 8, Monroe, Graham). Turnovers -- Fike 10, Southern Wayne 8. Total fouls -- Fike 30, Southern Wayne 20. Fouled out -- Johnson (Fike). Technicals -- none.
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