12/12/10 — Southern Wayne boys pull away from Goldsboro

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Southern Wayne boys pull away from Goldsboro

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 12, 2010 1:50 AM

DUDLEY -- First impressions can be a little misleading. It's a good thing Russell Stephens didn't get bluffed.

Stephens scouted Goldsboro on Tuesday and walked away from Norvell T. Lee Gymnasium knowing he hadn't seen the perennial powerhouse play its best game against North Lenoir.

"I told our guys that's not the team that's going to show up at Southern Wayne," said Stephens, now in his fifth season with the Saints. "That's not the team I'm used to seeing for Goldsboro. Obviously, tonight they came out ready to play."

The adrenaline-fueled, defensive-filled contest didn't disappoint the overflow crowd of 1,400-plus fans Friday evening. The Cougars stayed within striking distance until the final three-plus minutes before the Saints pulled away for a 70-56 victory.

Bernard Gross led four Southern Wayne players in double figures with 18 points. Trey Allen logged 12 points and five assists, while Khari Faison knocked down 12 points. Delfawn Worrells scored 11.

James Williams emerged the Cougars' top offensive performer with 17 points. Damarian Henderson and Robert Kornegay contributed 10 points apiece for the Cougars, who endured their second consecutive defeat.

Turnovers were the difference.

Miscues and rushed shots against the Saints' pressure defense took its toll in the latter stages of the second half. The Cougars constantly dribbled down the sideline and didn't attack the middle third of the court against Southern's 1-2-1-1 fullcourt press.

A four-point deficit quickly swelled to double digits.

"They did a great job closing their traps down, rotating on the backside and basically making us shoot ourselves in the foot sometimes," said Reynell. "That, to me, was the difference."

Gross' 3-pointer in transition and his offensive putback kept the Cougars within arm's length at 58-50 with 5:57 left in regulation. But a quick 7-2 surge boosted the Saints' advantage to double digits and fans in the standing-room-only crowd headed toward the exits.

"We stepped it up defensively and forced them to take some shots they didn't want to take," said Stephens. "They were right there with us. I think we were able to speed them up. Open shots (for them) weren't open because they were contested."

Goldsboro (3-2 overall) led 17-16 after one quarter.

Southern Wayne (5-1) took the lead for good, 23-19, on back-to-back buckets by Gross and Allen midway through the second period. The Saints extended their advantage to nine points and led 41-35 at halftime.