Defense leads Hillside past Southern Wake
Don’t poke the Hornets nest. The defense will sting you.
The Hillside Hornets crushed Southern Wake Academy 83-43 Friday in the Mt. Zion Christian Academy Christmas Tournament. Tonight they are scheduled to play the winner of Friday’s late game between Legacy Charter School and Faith Assembly Christian Academy.
“I really felt like defense was tenacious,” Hillside coach Crasten Davis said. “And even when we were playing zone we got deflections and we made them shoot some long shots, so we could get some easy baskets in transition.
“I think defensively we did a really good job, and I think we outrebounded them by quite a few.”
Despite the lopsided score, and sophomore point guard Justice Kithcart’s game-high 23 points – which included one 3-pointer from in front of the Lions bench and another bomb from about 10 feet in front of the scoring table -- the Hornets had difficulty, especially in the first period, tickling the net.
“We’ve been struggling with our shooting the past two games. At E.E. Smith I think we shot under 30 percent,” Davis said of last Saturday’s 63-51 loss. “Generally we’re a 50 percent shooting team. Tonight we started off a little slow. We haven’t had a chance to practice since Monday.”
Still, he found reason to be pleased.
“I think our point guards did a really good job, our wings did a really good job of passing the ball ahead,” he said.
“The thing is in a Christmas tournament like this you’re trying to get prepared for conference, and you just want to get better on the little things,” Davis said. “If we continue getting better on free throws and rebounding we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
Southern Wake could not keep up with Hillside’s frenetic pace.
“We get up and down the court pretty good, and I think we did a really good job of that being off since Saturday,” Davis said.
The Lions weren’t gifted with the same bench depth.
“I would imagine that they didn’t have much practice either, and eating all that Christmas turkey and chitlins” slowed down the Lions, Davis said. “We played all 12 guys, and all 12 guys got significant time. I’m sure that we had fresher legs.”
When they weren’t racing up and down the court, the Hornets were harassing Southern Wake on defense. Junior forward Oderah Udemadu was a rebounding machine, blocked several shots and came up with a few steals.
“(Udemadu) has really been proving big down low for us. He’s gotten better since the beginning of the year, and we expect big things from him come conference time,” Davis said.
Kithcart had several takeaways himself, including one at 5:56 of the third quarter. He snatched the ball away from a Lions defender who just came up with a defensive rebound and immediately popped it in for a score. At 3:47 of the second quarter he got a steal at the Lions end of the court and dashed all the way to the opposite end of the gym for a short set shot.
Hillside 83, Southern Wake 43
S. Wake 8 11 11 13—43
Hillside 17 22 24 20—83
S. Wake— Dondre Johnson 20, Rasheed Harrison 7, Randy Neal 6, Lorenzo Jackson 6, Victor Mangum 4.
Hillside—Justice Kithcart 23, Jalen McGee 12, Robert Robinson Jr. 12, Trevon Thompson 11, Jarrod France 8, Marcus Bowling 5, Lashone McCrea 4, Oderah Udemadu 4, Jamari Warren 2, Timothy Mangum 2.
Records—S. Wake 2-4, Hillside 6-2.