02/24/11 — RM - Southern Wayne boys

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RM - Southern Wayne boys

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 24, 2011 1:47 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne endured a rough stretch in the second quarter before rallying in the second half.

The effort came up just short.

Defending N.C. High School Athletic Association 3-A boys' basketball state champion Rocky Mount ended the game on a 7-2 run, and claimed a 77-73 win over the Saints on Wednesday night.

"We had one bad stretch and it cost us tonight," said Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. "We called two timeouts during that stretch and we tried to getting together, but we just couldn't get anything to fall."

The teams battled through a back-and-forth first quarter before the Saints stole the momentum in the final seconds of the period when Ronell Outlaw buried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 21-21.

The Gryphons scored the next 16 points of the game and raced out to a 37-21 lead.

Undaunted, the Saints began the long climb back on the shoulders of Delfawn Worrells. Southern Wayne's small forward began to break down the Rocky Mount defense and scored six points before the intermission that helped the Saints pull within 10 points.

"I told the guys at halftime that this opponent will let you back in it if you hustle and take advantage of the press," said Stephens. "I thought we would come out and play better in the second half, and we did that."

The Saints came out hot in the third quarter as they began to knock down perimeter shots. Outlaw buried three additional 3-pointers in the second half and ignited the home crowd.

Bernard Gross gave the Saints a 71-70 lead with two free throws with two minutes to play.

Rocky Mount forward Tacoby Hines took the lead right back for the visitors with a 3-pointer eight seconds later. Exzavier Cooper sank a jumper with 54 seconds to play that gave Rocky Mount a two-possession advantage.

Cooper sealed the game with two free throws 20 seconds later.

"Rocky Mount is really good team every year," said Stephens. "I have to give them a lot of credit, because they made big shots in the final minute."

Worrells led the Saints with 19 points. Outlaw added 14 points and Gross finished with 10 points.

Southern Wayne finished the season 21-5 overall.