Saints claim key ECC 3-A road win
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 13, 2008 2:22 PM
WILSON -- Dwight Smith couldn't have picked a more-perfect time rise out his current shooting slump.
The 5-foot-11 shooting guard collected 14 consecutive points -- all in the fourth quarter -- as the Saints stunned Wilson Hunt 59-53 on Tuesday evening. The victory pulled Southern Wayne (10-13 overall) into a second-place tie with the Warriors at 5-3 on the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference scene.
"A very, very big win," grinned Smith.
Hunt (16-6) capitalized on a technical foul and claimed its biggest advantage, 35-26, midway through the third quarter. The Saints, despite the adversity, picked up their intensity and closed the gap to 43-39 as the period expired.
With 6-4 center Jon Hart and 6-0 forward Kendrick Thompson wiping off the boards, Smith and reserve guard Monterio Brewington ignited the fourth-quarter charge. Brewington hit back-to-back shots and then Smith found his range.
Smith drained a 3-pointer off Justin Artis' assist to forge a 46-46 deadlock. He swished another 3 off an inbounds pass to give the Saints their first lead, 49-46, since early in the opening quarter.
"I've been letting my shot get to me," said Smith. "My father always tells me not to think about it. I got in a rhythm, just kept shooting and they went in."
Smith's third field goal, a running jumper in the lane, pushed the lead to 51-46. He added another 3 and three free throws to help the Saints earn a split in the regular-season series.
"Dwight is a true two guard, but we've been playing him on the ball this year because he does have that experience," said Southern Wayne coach Russell Stephens. "He hit a lot of big baskets where they were sagging off (defensively) and he didn't think about his shot tonight, but just stepped up and drained it.
"He was big down the stretch for us."
Southern Wayne scored five of the game's first eight points. The teams battled through five ties before Hunt claimed an 18-13 edge on consecutive buckets from Jamil Creech and Torez Jones.
The Warriors closed out the second quarter with an 8-3 run and led 27-22 at halftime. The third-quarter technical foul, which involved the Saints' Desmond Raiford and Hunt's Willie Harrison, created early tension in the third period.
"Our kids, it just fueled them to play harder," said Stephens. "We thought there was a foul there not called and was some pushing going on with Desmond and number 31 (Harrison) ... both physical players.
"We really kept our composure, got the ball where we needed to in the second half and showed a mental toughness."
Hart posted a double-double -- 25 points, 20 rebounds -- for the Saints. Raiford pulled down 12 rebounds, while Thompson grabbed 15 boards and dished out five assists.
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