12/31/08 — Saints collect fifth straight victory

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Saints collect fifth straight victory

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 31, 2008 1:46 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne invited perennial 4-A power Durham Hillside to its inaugural Saints Christmas Classic in hopes of receiving one last stern non-conference test.

The Saints received every bit of the challenge they had hoped for and plenty more from the Hornets in a 58-55 victory in the final game of the Classic on Tuesday evening. The win was Southern Wayne's fifth in a row.

"This was a good test for us from a good Durham Hillside team that plays in a tough 4-A conference," said Saints coach Russell Stephens. "This was probably what we needed going into conference play."

Southern Wayne used an 11-2 run that began late in the third quarter and extended into the fourth to build a 46-36 advantage. Hillside chipped away at the deficit and Brandon Watkins' layup with less than 30 seconds remaining trimmed the margin to 56-53.

Dwight Smith sank two free throws that stretched the lead to 58-53 with 19.3 seconds to play. The Hornets got a quick basket from Desmond Sumpter and got the ball back in time for Miykeal Faulcon to hoist a half-court 3-pointer in the final seconds that would have forced overtime.

"I think defensively we had some lapses," said Stephens. "I think midway through the fourth we got that 10-point lead with our defense and we put in five quick guys that put the pressure on. Then we went into passing too much and not attacking the basket like we had been doing."

Southern Wayne (10-4 overall) held a 26-23 lead at the half and quickly extended its cushion to 35-28 early in the third quarter. Brandon Anderson got things started with a layup, Justin Artis knocked down a 3-pointer, Javaris McMillan added a basket and Anderson capped the spurt with another layup.

Following a timeout, Hillside responded with back-to-back 3-pointers from Sumpter and Faulcon. Faulcon made five of the Hornets' nine 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 21 points. He earned a spot on the All-Classic team.

"We knew (Faulcon) could shoot the ball and we were right on him and he hit some tough one's," said Stephens. "It's not like he had uncontested shots. We lost him a couple of times, but a kid like that you've got to keep a hand in his face."

Hillside's effort was hampered by 20 turnovers which were caused in large part by the Saints' full-court pressure which led to transition opportunities.

Sumpter's layup early in the second period tied the game at 14-14 before Southern Wayne scored six unanswered points. The Hornets answered with 3-pointers on consecutive possessions from Faulcon and Kyle King to even things up at 20-20. Layups from Artis, McMillan and Anderson in the final minutes of the half put Southern Wayne in front at the break.

Desmond Raiford provided the Saints with a spark off the bench and finished with a team-high 15 points while making his presence felt defensively. McMillan contributed 11 points and Anderson had 10.

"Bringing Desmond in we know that's instant offense off the bench," said Stephens. "He's probably our best post player as far as offense goes. We went to him tonight and he certainly brought a lot of intensity."

The Saints visit Jones Senior on Jan. 7, 2009.