Saints top county rival Cougars
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on January 7, 2010 1:46 PM
DUDLEY -- No one ever gets a second chance to make a first impression.
Goldsboro spent the first five minutes of Wednesday's battle with Southern Wayne watching shots clang off the rim and open opportunities go by the wayside..
During that span, the Saints asserted themselves on offense and seized an 8-0 lead that they would never relinquish in a 56-51, non-conference victory before a standing-room-only crowd.
"It was important for us to come out and show our strength defensively," said Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. "We have stretches where we have trouble scoring the basketball, so we know that we have to play good defense all the time."
Goldsboro cut the early deficit to four at the half thanks to aggressive offense from penetrating guards Devonte White and Demetrio Irby.
Southern Wayne opened the third quarter with back-to-back jumpers before White answered with a 3-pointer. The teams traded baskets throughout the period as Southern Wayne pounded the ball inside to forwards Rashaad Hill and Khari Faison.
Goldsboro relied on its drive-and-dish offense.
"It would have been really easy for our guys to come out in this atmosphere, and get hit and kind of lay down," said Cougars head coach Patrick Reynell. "But they did not do that. They came back each time Southern Wayne made a run and we made a game of it."
The Cougars cut the Saints' lead to three points at 49-46 with four minutes to play on a basket by James Williams. Southern Wayne regrouped after a timeout and took advantage of the frantic Goldsboro press defense.
Hill threw down a pair of thunderous dunks on consecutive possessions and put the game away.
"I challenged Rashaad to come out and be a difference maker tonight," said Stephens. "He answered my call and was a force in the paint throughout the game."
Hill led the Saints (7-6 overall) with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Justin Artis added 14 points, while Bernard Gross chipped in six points and 10 boards.
Goldsboro (6-5) was led by White's 12-point effort. Resean Brewington added 10 points and six rebounds. Williams also added 10 points.
The Cougars open Carolina 1-A Conference play at North Duplin on Friday night.
"I am really pleased that this game fell they way it did on the schedule because I think it prepares us to go into league play," said Reynell. "To come out and play well against a very athletic team gives us a good measure of how good we can be."
Southern Wayne entertains Erwin Triton on Friday night in the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference opener for both schools.
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