Gator men maintain Carolina lead
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on January 30, 2005 2:02 AM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- One run.
The Spring Creek men's basketball team's transition and outside shooting strengths were limited in the first half as Rosewood's man-to-man defense helped the Eagles go into the half with confidence -- trailing by just one.
In front of a standing-room only crowd at a loud, Gators' gymnasium, one quick 11-0 streak late in the third period proved to be the difference in Spring Creek's 52-43 win. With 2:30 left in the third, Gator junior guard Cliff Wilson drilled three 3-pointers on three-straight possessions pushing a five-point lead up to 40-26.
"We weren't really hitting our shots at the beginning of the game, but Chris Wright and Josh Bishop started finding me on the wing, and I just started getting in my groove," Wilson said. "We've been practicing defense for five-days straight. We were playing team defense and that's what won us this game."
Chris Wright (18 points) and Josh Wright (10 points) combined for 11 points in the third and by period's end, Spring Creek led 42-29. Mychael King finished with a career-high 17 rebounds and had a big block during the run. Leading-scorer Josh Bishop was held to just five points, but pulled down five rebounds and three assists while adding a key steal in the third-period spurt.
"We're not comfortable having to run half court. We like to run-and-gun," Spring Creek coach Sonny Kilpatrick said. "I don't think these guys (Rosewood) are athletic enough to run with us, but they are athletic enough to get down the floor. We've worked hard since Tuesday night going through our offenses and not rushing.
"If we wouldn't have played together, we would have lost this game."
The win keeps the Gators (12-5 overall) at the top of the Class 1-A Carolina Conference with a 7-2 mark, one game ahead of North Johnston in the win column. The Eagles fell to 6-12 overall and 2-7 in league play.
In the women's game, Rosewood's pressing defense created 36 turnovers as the Eagles held Spring Creek to without a field goal well into the fourth period. Led by 14 points from Shanita Monroe, every Rosewood player scored in the Eagles' 64-8 win.
The output was a season-low for points allowed by the Eagles and was the Gators' lowest scoring output of the season.
"We've got some girls who play with a lot of intensity on defense and go diving across the floor for the ball," Rosewood coach Jerry Narron said. "That paid off for us tonight."
Rosewood (12-6 overall) improved to 6-3 in conference play. With three games left, the Eagles remain two games behind both North Johnston and Farmville Central, both at 7-1. Spring Creek (1-16 overall) dipped to 0-9 against conference foes.
Bishop was defended well by Rosewood senior Danny Langston, who played most of the second half despite losing a tooth in the third period, consistently through the game. Eagle teammate Kyle Bunn paced the Eagles offensively with 12 points. Bunn's second three of the game pulled the Eagles to within two at 24-22 early in the third.
The Gators finished with 19 more attempts from the free throw line on the game, but Rosewood took better advantage of its opportunities from the stripe. The Eagles made eight-of-eight in the first half with points at a premium, while the home team managed just six-of-16. Spring Creek bounced back to connect on 12-of-14 after intermission.
Rosewood didn't go away quietly in the fourth after the Gators' run. A basket down low by Langston on an assist from Dustin Overman, followed by a put-back on the next possession by Holt Rains, capped an 11-2 spurt by the Eagles. The score stood 44-37 with 3:30 left.
Spring Creek's offense didn't manage a field goal in the fourth until later in the period as the Eagles had several chances to cut deeper into the lead, but never got closer than seven. Eventually, Josh and Chris Wright combined for eight-of-nine shooting in the fourth to seal the win for the Gators.
"We let them have one run the whole night, but it was definitely a big one and that was the difference in the game," Rosewood coach Daniel Mitchell said. "We had some opportunities and couldn't get it trimmed. If we make one of those baskets, then all of a sudden there is more pressure on them.
"I'm proud of the way my guys stood in their and fought until the very end."
The girls game proved to be all Rosewood from the opening tip as Latita Wade posted 10 of the Eagles' 18 points in the opening period. Meanwhile, Clare Narron and Jessica Hill paced the Eagle defense with a handful of steals leading to layups -- giving Rosewood an 18-0 lead after the first period.
Narron and co-head coach June Hill consistently mixed their lineups and kept fresh players on the floor through most of the final three periods. Stephanie Rhodes added eight points for the Eagles as ten Rosewood players scored at least four points.
"I would like to see our second five play anybody else's second five in the conference," Narron said. "We've got an outstanding second five."
The Eagles led 34-2 at halftime and 48-4 after three periods as the Gators managed just four makes at the free throw line to get on the scoreboard. Spring Creek's only two field games came from Vanity Brooks scored at the 4:15 mark of the four period, while Patryce Pounds added a basket later in the fourth.
"I told my girls to be ready for the press, but for some reason we panicked," Spring Creek coach Mandy Ramjford said. "Not saying we could have won, but we could have played a lot better than we did. It was almost like we were scared to attack them offense."
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