Spring Creek guard Landon Smothers

Goldsboro guard Christian Bullock (15) during last year’s FCA Winter Classic.

One bad first quarter.

Spring Creek converted only four field goals during the first quarter and just couldn’t recover in a 53-50 opening-round loss to Wayne Christian on day one of the sixth annual Southern Bank/Mount Olive Pickle Winter Classic on Wednesday afternoon.

“I’d rather have a game like this than a blowout,” said Wayne Christian head coach Victor Young. “In tournaments like this, you need good tests, and today was a great opener.

“We just showed we can win in a battle tested game my guys really locked in towards the end.”

Wayne Christian seized command of the game with a 13-8 third-quarter run, as all afternoon Spring Creek struggled to hit shots. However, with one-minute left in the third quarter, Spring Creek made the score 40-39.

Landon Smother and Tyrese Artis each scored to give the Gators a 48-47 lead with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Wayne Christian answered with a 6-2 run, Jamal King scored all six of the Eagles points and helped seal the win for the Eagles.

“We have some really good leaders on our team,” Young said. “The whole time I told them to remain calm, focus in and execute, and that’s what they did toward the end.”

Despite their best efforts, the Gators were unable to respond to Wayne Christian’s late surge.

“We weren’t as good as we’d like to be offensively,” Spring Creek head coach Taylor Jones said. “Defensive effort was great, but we just settled too much. In the second half we did a much better job of driving the ball and it gave us chance.

“You have to score enough to win games against teams we’re playing in this tournament and we just didn’t score enough.”

Demartae Bizzell led Spring Creek with 20 points, while Artis finished the game with 15 points.

King drained in 20 points, while freshman Jaydon Young was close behind with 19 points for the Eagles, who triumphed in coach Young’s return to Kornegay Arena. Young played at UMO and was the 2005 Pickle Classic MVP.