11/22/11 — Chargers' defense smothers Eagles

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Chargers' defense smothers Eagles

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on November 22, 2011 1:48 PM

Wilson Christian rang the bell.

Wayne Christian never answered.

The Chargers forced turnovers out of a smothering 1-1-2-1 three-quarters trapping defense in the third quarter and rolled to a 69-46, non-conference victory inside Clifford Gymnatorium on Monday evening.

"The third quarter ... they handed it to us right away," said Eagles head coach Franklin Brathwaite. "They got hot, they got comfortable and just started hitting shots. We could never get our energy back."

The Eagles (0-3 overall) grabbed a 13-12 lead on Chase Darden's conventional three-point play early in the second quarter. The layup and free throw sparked a 15-9 run that ended on Dylan Smith's three-point play just before halftime.

WCS led 28-21 at the break.

Wilson Christian, of the N.C. Christian Schools Association 3-A ranks, converted its first shot of the second half when Jon Abrams attempted to throw a pass to a teammate underneath the basket. The midcourt heave turned into a 3-pointer for the junior guard, who buried six of eight bombs behind the arc in the final two periods of action.

The Chargers (1-4) settled into their press and forced the Eagles into back-to-back turnovers. Abrams, Darien Huff and Nate Strother each drained a 3 and the seven-point halftime deficit turned into a comfortable 38-29 advantage.

"I wanted them to play that defense in the first half, but they just wouldn't do it," laughed WCA head coach Ryan Vanderboegh, who played collegiate ball at Pensacola (Fla.) Christian. "I had to pull it out of them, get mad at them a little bit in the locker room ... encourage them any way I could.

"Jon Abrams was lights out in the second half. Everybody provided a spark."

Darden's 3-pointer closed the gap to 38-32. Strother, who poured in a game-high 27 points, and Abrams continued to convert from the outside and push the Chargers back in front 44-33.

Strother and Abrams combined for 14 second-half field goals after knocking down just two shots apiece in the first half.

"We got around the screens in the first half," said Brathwaite. "The second half we were a little tired, they ran their sets better, but when the shots go down you find yourself a little deflated. We didn't fight over the screens like we should have."

Wilson Christian put the game away with a 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter.

Seth Slusher and Darden each posted a double-double for the Eagles. Slusher supplied 14 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. Darden contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Smith chipped in seven points.