Gators bite Tigers
By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on December 14, 2006 1:47 PM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Spring Creek took full advantage of playing a James Kenan squad that had been together for less than a week, beating the Tigers on Wednesday night 60-52.
With 13 of Kenan's 15 players playing for the football team, which fell this past Saturday in the state title game, the Tigers were forced to postpone three games, giving coach Gerald Garner limited time with his team.
"We had one practice on Monday, so we had to make some cuts and get a team together in one day," Garner said. "We're kind of playing our way into shape."
Even with the advantage of playing a rusty team, Spring Creek played like the better team at both ends of the floor.
"My guys played together better tonight then they have in a while," said Spring Creek coach Sonny Kilpatrick, who is coaching his final season after 27 years on the Gators bench. "We made some real good passes and some real good decisions down the stretch. I pretty proud of my boys tonight."
Josh Wright scored a game-high 21 points to lead Spring Creek (2-4), while David Harris added 16.
"(Josh) is one of the best athletes we have -- period," said Kilpatrick. "I thought he played great tonight. He spread the ball around and he took it to the hole when he needed to."
Kenan (1-1) placed three players in double figures with Sean Wilson scoring 14 points, JamIane Smith with 13 and D.J. Canady adding 12.
After the two teams had played to a 9-9 tie at the end of the first quarter, Spring Creek used runs of 9-0 and 6-0 to go into the locker room leading 31-24 at the half.
The Gators threatened the blow the game open in the second half, but each time the Tigers had an answer.
Spring Creek seemed to seize control of the game when Lucas Potter opened the fourth quarter by scoring three straight buckets to push the score to 52-42 -- the Gators' largest lead of the night with 6:05 to play.
"(Lucas) is the tallest guy we have," said Kilpatrick. "If we can just get some muscle on him, he'll be a force. He's great at finesse moves."
The Tigers then used their full-court press and man-to-man defense to shut down the Gators over the next three minutes.
A missed shot and three straight turnovers led to five unanswered points for Kenan to cut the deficit to five at 52-47 with 4:16 remaining.
"I was pleased with our effort tonight," Garner said. "We never quit."
Wright then used his quickness to get by Kenan defenders, taking the ball to the basket and drawing fouls. Wright's foul shots pushed the lead back to seven at 54-47.
"They didn't have anyone that could stop him," said Kilpatrick. "He can take it to the hole."
Kenan refused to quit and cut the lead to four following Smith's steal and layup with 1:50 to go.
The Tigers were then forced to foul Wright with 45 seconds left, trailing by four.
Wright sank the first free throw, but missed the second allowing Desmond Raiford to pull down the offensive rebound. Raiford then dished it to the cutting Wright who laid it in to ice the game.
"Raiford got some big, big rebounds that helped us a lot," Kilpatrick said.
In the first game of the evening, the Spring Creek girls fell to 0-7 on the year in a ugly and physical 49-29 loss to James Kenan. The game featured three players fouling out, two intentional fouls, plenty of bruised players and a plethora of turnovers.
The two teams combined to commit 91 turnovers during the game -- 43 by the Gators, many which were unforced.
"Turnovers keep killing us," said Spring Creek coach Amanda Ramfjord, whose young squad features four freshmen and no seniors.
If the turnovers weren't bad enough, the Gators' shooting was off as Spring Creek made only three field goals over the first three quarters of play.
Tasha Whitfield scored nine points and pulled down eight rebounds for the Gators.
Erika Stroughton and Lauren Houston both scored 10 points to lead Kenan (3-2).
Free throws kept Spring Creek in the game during the first half. The Gators made seven of their 17 shots from the line and trailed 21-13 at halftime, despite only hitting two field goals.
The drought continued in the second half for the Gators as the Kenan offense pushed the game out of reach.
A 12-0 run by the Tigers extended the lead to 33-14 in the third quarter.
Thanks in part to 13 turnovers in the quarter and just one field goal, the Tigers had their biggest lead at 37-16 at the end of the third.
The Gators began playing more focused in the final quarter, taking better care of the basketball and getting some open looks against the physical man-to-man Tiger defense, but were never able get the lead down to less than 15.
"We have to fix the little things," said Ramfjord. "We have the talent and the desire, but until we start fixing things it's hard to win."
James Kenan 9 15 18 10 -- 52
Spring Creek 9 22 15 14 -- 60
JAMES KENAN (1-1)
Sean Wilson 5 0 4-6 14, Jamiane Smith 5 0 3-7 13, D.J. Canady 5 0 2-2 12, Duan Alston 3 0 2-4 8, Tyrell Pemberton 1 0 1-1 3, Shawn Jones 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 20 0 12-20 52.
SPRING CREEK (2-4)
Josh Wright 7 0 7-13 21, David Harris 4 1 5-10 16, Lucas Potter 4 0 0-0 8, Desmond Raiford 3 0 0-0 6, Kevin Winn 0 2 0-0 6, Carsheme Ruffin 1 0 0-0 2, Daniel Harris 0 0 1-2 1. TOTALS -- 19 3 13-27 60.
James Kenan 10 11 16 12 -- 49
Spring Creek 4 9 3 13 -- 29
JAMES KENAN (3-2)
Erika Stroughton 5 0 0-0 10, Lauren Houston 3 0 4-6 10, Camisha Parker 3 0 2-2 8, Demetrius Farrior 3 0 0-0 6, Ashanti Stroud 2 0 2-3 6, Hannah Adams 2 0 0-0 4, Tete King 1 0 2-4 4, Jessica Smith 0 0 1-2 1. TOTALS -- 19 0 11-17 49.
SPRING CREEK (0-7)
Tasha Whitfield 3 0 3-8 9, Shaquita Brooks 0 2 0-0 6, Sarah Parks 0 0 6-8 6, Melanique DeVeaux 1 0 3-6 5, Maura Phipps 0 0 2-7 2, Norma Valentin 0 0 1-2 1, Nichole Johnson 0 0 0-4 0. TOTALS -- 4 2 15-35 29.
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