Southern gets downright pithy, peels Orange in venge match
The Southern Spartans were so fired up to avenge an overtime loss to Orange in Hillsborough earlier this season that nothing with the color orange was allowed anywhere near Spartan players or coaches this week.
“That’s all we had was orange peelings in our mouth since the last time we played them,” Southern coach Kendrick Hall said. “One of the kids had an orange Gatorade, and they threw it out of the room today. It was like, ‘How can you drink an orange Gatorade?’”
The visiting Panthers couldn’t match Southern’s intensity this time around, as the Spartans (10-8, 7-2 Big Eight 3-A) blitzed Orange 70-53 on Friday night. Amari Hamilton scored 20 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, including 14 in a clutch performance in the fourth quarter.
Hamilton, who missed two crucial free throws late in regulation against Orange earlier this month, made up for it this time by scoring the final 13 Spartan points, sinking 10 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
The senior guard was coming off a 45-point game against Hillside.
“He handled it well,” Hall said. “He really didn’t press. He took his shots. And he’s a really, really good free throw shooter. He pulled through for us at the end.”
Orange (15-4, 7-2 Big Eight) beat Southern 75-63 on Jan. 7, pulling away in overtime. This time, though, the Panthers struggled on offense, hitting only 18 of 57 shots.
“They played well, and we didn’t play so well tonight, just from the stuff we normally do and are successful with,” Orange coach Greg Motley said. “It probably was a combination of them playing well and us playing not so well. They gave us a little trouble (on defense).
“We missed a whole bunch of easy stuff. Not to make any excuses, but we haven’t practiced (since Monday). That played a toll on us in the way we do what we do because we really try to be prepared for games. We had to fly by the seat of our pants on this one.”
Orange led early, but an 11-0 run followed by an 11-2 run enabled Southern to lead 34-25 at halftime. The Panthers fought to within two points, 40-38, late in the third quarter, but Kendall Hinton led a 17-4 burst as the Spartans took control.
Hinton (nine points) made a 3-pointer, two free throws and an inside basket during the spree, and Greg Washington closed the run with a follow shot for a 57-42 lead with 5:33 remaining.
From there, Hamilton took over, scoring the final 13 Spartan points, including 9 of 10 from the foul line.
“We’ve really harped on free throws,” Hall said. “That’s been one of our Achilles heels. We’re getting a little bit better, but we can always work more and more on that.”
The Panthers can’t hang their heads for long, as they play again today. Orange isn’t used to losing games this season, but Motley believes his team will bounce back.
“We’ll try to get the kids to believe in themselves, and just because you lose a game, it doesn’t change who you are as a person or as a team,” Motley said. “You’ve got to find out how to get back on track. That’ll be our big focus.”
SOUTHERN 70, ORANGE 53
Orange 13 12 15 13—53
Southern 18 16 15 21—70
ORANGE — J.D. Brooks 12, Eryk Brandon-Dean 11, Jawan Chambers 11, Keegan Crabtree 10, Tay Jones 5, Landon Wheeler 2, C.J. Brown 2.
SOUTHERN — Amari Hamilton 28, Kendall Hinton 9, Greg Washington 9, JaTori Christmas 8, Rashad Dixon 5, Marin Tillman 5, Andrew Freeman 3, Orlandis Patterson 2, Ben Johnson 1.
3-point FG — Orange 2 (Chambers 1, Crabtree 1), Southern 7 (Hamilton 2, Christmas 2, Tillman 1, Freeman 1, Hinton 1). Total fouls — Orange 17, Southern 19.
Records — Orange 15-4, 7-2 Big Eight 3-A; Southern 10-8, 7-2 Big Eight.