12/21/10 — South Johnston - S.Creek boys

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South Johnston - S.Creek boys

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on December 21, 2010 1:47 PM

PRINCETON -- South Johnston opened a double-digit lead early in the second quarter and held off a third quarter rally by Spring Creek en route to a 61-53 victory in the opening round of the Princeton Holiday Classic on Monday evening.

Coming off a blowout loss to county rival Eastern Wayne, Spring Creek head coach Taylor Jones was worried about how his team would respond against another 3-A opponent.

The first quarter confirmed Jones' concerns.

South Johnston opened up a 10-3 lead in the first eight minutes behind some stifling defense and some poor shooting by the Gators.

"I think we were playing so hard and so fast that we got way ahead of ourselves," Jones said. "We seemed like we were rushing a little bit early and shooting a lot of balls long off the back of the rim."

South Johnston got a pair of 3-pointers by David Collins in the opening minutes of the second quarter and extended its lead to 12 points. The Trojans led 29-17 at the half.

The momentum turned in Spring Creek's favor in the third period when Adam Haggerty opened the period with a rebound and a putback. A.J. Gills followed with a steal and a layup.

"I felt like we were really playing our game in the third quarter," said Jones. "It was fast, but it was not too fast. Our guys found a little bit of a flow and we were able to step up the defense."

Point guard Deshar Thomas nailed three free throws in the final minute of the period to cut the South Johnston lead to 36-33, but that is as close as the Gators would get. A basket and a pair of free throws on consecutive possessions by Derek Brewington extended the Trojans' lead to eight points entering the fourth quarter.

The teams traded baskets for much of the period with Spring Creek battling foul trouble.

"We have some guys out hurt and tonight it clearly hurt us as far as our front-court depth," said Jones. "I was really pleased with how hard my guys played and how we responded to a bad loss."

Thomas paced the Gators (2-8 overall) with 23 points. A.J. Gills added 14 points and nine rebounds. Haggerty dropped in 13 points and grabbed seven boards.

Collins led the Trojans with 19 points.

South Johnston advances to the tournament championship game tonight against Princeton at 8 p.m. Spring Creek will be in the consolation game at 5 p.m.