11/21/12 — Rocky Mount Prep-Goldsboro boys

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Rocky Mount Prep-Goldsboro boys

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on November 21, 2012 1:48 PM

Russell Stephens knows nothing in high school basketball is decided in November.

After a 36-point, season-opening home loss, Stephens also knows his team has plenty of work to do.

Goldsboro struggled to match Rocky Mount Prep's blistering pace in an 86-50 defeat during Stephens' debut as the Cougars' head coach Tuesday evening at Norvell T. Lee Gymnasium.

The Jaguars placed four scorers in double figures and needed fewer than four minutes to open up a double-digit lead in the first quarter. Rocky Mount Prep's up-tempo style and relentless ball pressure created four quarters of headaches and an abundance of turnovers for Goldsboro.

Keneen Deberry's 3-pointer gave the Jaguars a 17-4 lead as the Cougars were plagued by nine first-quarter turnovers. Goldsboro struggled to set up its half court offense as Rocky Mount Prep clogged passing lanes and harassed ball handlers.

"We are a better team than we showed out there tonight," Stephens said. "Rocky Mount Prep is a talented group and you know what's coming at you. I thought we got some good-looking shots in that first quarter and just couldn't finish. When the shots weren't going, we had turnovers and that didn't help us out."

The Jaguars scored 11 straight points in the blink of an eye in the second quarter as the lead swelled to 37-14. Rocky Mount Prep routinely converted missed shots and turnovers into transition opportunities and easy buckets. Jacob Barrett scored 12 of his 17 points in the first two quarters as the Jaguars built a 40-18 lead by halftime.

"We practice like that every day, so that tempo is nothing that we haven't seen," Stephens said. "I think what got us tonight is when we did get shots they weren't falling early and then when we didn't get shots we turned the ball over. It is difficult to keep up when they're scoring the way they were and I think we got a little mixed up in our transitional defense tonight."

Amidst countless turnovers and numerous questionable shots, Stephens was pleased with his team's willingness to hustle for four quarters. Damarian Henderson scored 16 of his game-high 23 points after halftime and the Cougars appeared to play with more poise in the second half.

"I liked that we didn't ever stop playing hard," Stephens said. "I saw our guys out there battling hard. When you make turnovers and you miss easy shots, it frustrates you. But I think we are a much better team than we put on the court tonight."

Jaylen Moore contributed seven points for Goldsboro. Gary Smith paced Rocky Mount Prep with 20 points.

The Cougars (0-1 overall) visit Wilson Hunt on Friday.