02/20/07 — Saints shock D.H. Conley

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Saints shock D.H. Conley

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 20, 2007 2:13 PM

HOLLYWOOD -- As the first-half buzzer sounded Monday evening, Southern Wayne trotted off toward the locker room in front of a silent -- and shocked -- D.H. Conley crowd.

The Saints had played a near-flawless opening half and owned a 39-35 lead as their reward. But Southern Wayne head coach Russell Royal urged his team to forget the first-half performance and cautioned them to avoid an early third-quarter letdown.

"We had a good first half, but whoever comes out in the second half on fire and ready to go, will take this game," Royal said to his players during the 10-minute intermission.

The Saints answered Royal's call.

T.J. Davis buried a pair of 3-pointers to spark a 10-4 run and Southern Wayne never wavered in a 76-62 upset of state-ranked D.H. Conley. The Saints (13-13) oppose Bertie in a second-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A playoff contest Wednesday.

Royal expected a mismatch in size, especially in the paint. His frontcourt players yielded at least three inches to the Vikings, but somehow Royal felt the disadvantage wouldn't factor into the outcome.

The Saints had faced taller opposition all season.

"I think our guys got tired of being under-matched and under-sized all year," said Royal. "I think the guys just went with it and matched it with their heart, which is what every one of my players did.

"They might have been a few inches shorter, but their hearts were 10 times bigger than anybody in this gym tonight."

D.H. Conley employed a 2-3 matchup zone and trapped near the midcourt line. Accustomed to the defensive strategy, the Saints' backcourt of Paris Armwood and Anthony Vick ran the offense with near precision.

The sharp-shooting guards drew defenders to them, which left either Jon Hart, Kendrick Thompson or T.J. Davis open at different areas of the court. Hart drained two 3-pointers and Thompson knocked converted three field goals within six feet of the basket.

"The last few games we've gotten better hitting our post man," said Royal. "We've been able to knock the shot down from the outside, but the teams have started to cover our guards. We've told them to look inside, like Thompson who can knock down that mid-range shot.

"It's starting to work."

Southern Wayne built eight-point leads twice in the opening half, only to see D.H. Conley pull within one point each time. The Vikings misfired each time they attempted to take the lead. The second miss led to Vick's 3-pointer, off Armwood's assist, which provided the Saints' halftime margin.

Colbert's two-handed dunk on an offensive putback capped Southern Wayne's 10-4 run less than three minutes into the third quarter. The Saints led 49-39 with 5:08 to go and forced D.H. Conley coach Rob Maloney to burn a 30-second timeout.

"That was a big key," said Royal of the run.

After the timeout, Southern Wayne tallied nine of the next 11 points for its biggest lead -- 58-41 -- with 3:17 to go. The Vikings, ranked No. 8 in the latest NCPreps.com poll, eventually whittled the deficit to single digits late in the fourth quarter.

Armwood (16 points) and Davis combined to hit five free throws in the final 60 seconds. Davis led all scorers with 24 points as the Saints prevailed for the fourth time in their last five outings. Armwood added seven assists and five rebounds.

Thompson supplied 12 points. Vick ended up point shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.

2007 N.C. High School

Athletic Association Class 3-A

Sectional No. 2

Men's Basketball Playoffs

(at D.H. Conley HS)

Southern Wayne 25 14 24 13 -- 76

D.H. Conley 20 15 13 14 -- 62


Paris Armwood 5 1 3-6 16, Anthony Vick 0 3 0-0 9, A.J. Lee 0 0 0-2 0, Rasaad Hill 0 0 0-0 0, Jon Hart 0 2 0-0 6, Dwight Smith 0 0 1-2 1, James Jones 0 0 0-0 0, Kendrick Thompson 6 0 0-0 12, Orlando Davis 4 4 4-4 24, Julian Colbert 4 0 0-0 8. TOTALS -- 19 10 8-14 76.

D.H. CONLEY (21-6)

Taj Abdullah 1 0 0-0 2, Brad Spain 3 0 0-0 6, Jonathan Setters 2 1 0-1 8, Josh Mularski 0 0 0-1 0, Chad Anderson 0 1 0-0 3, Jeron Lane 1 0 4-4 6, Akeem Daniels 2 0 1-2 5, Germel Daniels 5 0 1-2 11, Terrance Whitaker 2 0 2-5 6, Chris Smith 3 1 5-614, Jimetriz McCloud 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 20 3 13-21 62.