01/09/05 — Blue Devils upset N. Lenior

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Blue Devils upset N. Lenior

Published in Sports on January 9, 2005 2:02 AM

DEEP RUN -- South Lenoir coach Jimmy Smith stood in the middle of the Munn Gymnasium basketball court, surrounded by hundreds of cheering Blue Devils' supporters.

He was crying, but he didn't care who saw him. South Lenoir had just upset archrival North Lenoir 54-51 and he was, to put it simply, happy to be a Blue Devil.

"It was so great," an emotional Smith said later in his office. "But we owe it to our fans. We're a big family. I love them, and I hope they love me."

The Blue Devils men (7-4) held the Hawks (9-2) to one field goal in the final 5:46 of their Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference opener, but it came with seven seconds left. By that point, South Lenoir had already won the game and the celebrating was already taking place throughout the greater Deep Run area.

Justin Dunn scored on a layup with 5:46 left to give the Hawks a 48-44 lead. On North Lenoir's next seven possessions, the Hawks missed a shot, committed three straight offensive fouls, missed a free throw and a follow shot, hit one free throw and turned the ball over.

The North Lenoir offensive inefficiency -- doubled with South Lenoir's patient offense and hawkish defense -- turned a four-point Hawks lead into a 54-49 Blue Devils lead on a Brandon Rouse layup with 24 seconds left.

But if you're looking for a reason South Lenoir came away with the win, look no further than Blue Devils' point guard Khalice Dove. The senior helped South Lenoir overcome a 22-19 halftime deficit with 10 third-quarter points. When South Lenoir outscored the Hawks 10-1 in the homestretch, it was Dove's defensive leadership that led the way for the Devils.

Dove said he relishes being the leader of the Devils.

"It means a lot to know my teammates count on me," Dove said. "Coach Smith has told me these guys look up to me, so I know I have a big responsibility to step up and be a leader."

North Lenoir was led by Dunn's 21 points and Omar Jones' 14. The Hawks host Goldsboro Monday in a non-conference tilt.

Hawks coach Paul Dunn didn't hesitate to praise the South Lenoir effort.

"South Lenoir played well the entire game and they just outplayed us in every aspect of the game," Dunn said. "My guys didn't come to play. But we'll get back to the gym tomorrow and get back to work."

Brandon Rouse was the leading scorer for South Lenoir, hitting 12 of his 18 points in the first half to keep the Devils in the game. Kennedy added 10 for South Lenoir, who hosts Greenfield on Wednesday. The game was also the second of the season for the two rivals. North Lenoir beat South Lenoir in The Free Press Holiday Invitational championship last week.

South Lenoir's women very nearly made it a clean varsity sweep earlier in the evening, but North Lenoir battled to a 50-43 win.

The Blue Devils enjoyed leads of 11-2 at the end of the first quarter and 24-15 at halftime before North Lenoir's Shannon Plymouth put her team on her shoulders and willed the Hawks to the win.

The senior scored 18 of her game-high 22 points after halftime to lead the Hawks (12-1, 1-0) to the victory.

Katie Maloney added 11 points for North Lenoir.

The Blue Devils (6-5, 0-1) were led by 6-foot 4-inch sophomore center Kendra Pryor, who nearly had a triple-double. She finished with 10 points, 23 rebounds and eight blocked shots for South Lenoir.