01/07/12 — Southern Wayne boys win ECC thriller

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Southern Wayne boys win ECC thriller

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 7, 2012 11:38 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne knows its going to get every Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference opponent's best effort each time it takes the floor.

How the Saints respond to that challenge will largely be the measuring stick by which their season is measured.

Southern Wayne dug deep and passed one of those tests on Friday night. Trey Allen drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime and the Saints hung on for a 57-51 win over South Johnston.

Southern Wayne rallied to erase a six-point deficit late in regulation after blowing a 13-point lead earlier in the game.

The Saints (12-3, 4-0 ECC) trailed 40-35 with fewer than two minutes to play in regulation. Southern Wayne chipped away at the lead from the free throw line and went ahead 41-40 on Allen's jump shot with 58 seconds left.

D.J. Collins' jump shot with 40 seconds to play pushed the Trojans (3-8. 2-3) back in front at 42-41. Collins made two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to increase the advantage to 44-41. Allen took the inbounds pass, dribbled up the floor and calmly stepped into a game-tying 3-pointer as time expired.

"We had a play set up where we were going to run Trey off a pick but that senioritis got to him and he felt like they left him open and he hit a big one for us," Saints fifth-year head coach Russell Stephens said. "That's a big shot. We were on a life line all night and the crowd wanted something to get in to. We rode from there."

Ronnell Outlaw's 3-pointer early in overtime gave Southern Wayne a 49-45 lead. The margin grew to 53-46 but South Johnston pulled to within 54-51 on Juwan Bizzell's 3-pointer. Allen knocked down a pair of free throws to help seal the win. Allen finished with a game-high 16 points. Outlaw supplied 10 points and Quintae Bradshaw had nine points and nine rebounds.

:"We were 1 for 9 from the 3-point line in the first half and we shot three free throws and this team is not going to win doing that," Stephens said. "We've got to get to the free throw line. Credit South Johnston, they had a great game plan for us. You've got to be prepared to play every night."

The Saints led 20-7 in the second quarter before the Trojans went on a 20-7 run that stretched late into the third quarter. Michael Booker's lay-up tied the game at 27-27 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Juwan Bizzell sank a pair of free throws early in the fourth quarter to give South Johnston its first lead of the game at 31-29. Collins and Bizzell each scored 13 points for the Trojans. Southern Wayne was just 21 for 37 at the free throw line.

"We made it harder on ourselves than it had to be with missed free throws," Stephens said. "If you're at the top of the conference everybody is going to come after you. I told them this might be a game that comes down to the wire and keep fighting. We finally made some free throws in overtime and we just gutted it out."

The Saints entertain North Lenoir on Jan. 13.