Spartans climb back for victory over Wildcats
The Southern Spartans missed their first nine shots, turned the ball over on six of their first seven possessions and found themselves in a quick 9-0 hole against East Chapel Hill.
But who won Friday night’s PAC-6 contest? Southern, which fought back with a gritty fourth quarter to take down the Wildcats 44-38.
What was the difference?
“Straight defense, man,” Spartans coach Kendrick Hall said. “I told them at halftime that we were going to go straight man-to-man for the rest of the game. We’ve been working on that in practice. We mainly run pressure defense with our 1-2-2 press, but tonight, they played defense like they wanted to, and that was turnaround of the game.”
East Chapel Hill led 35-28 early in the fourth quarter but scored only a follow shot and free throw the rest of the game as the Southern defense clamped down.
With Ryan Hester dominating the boards, Isiah Maurice blocking shots and Shamiek Wilson, Vince Phillips and Tyran Cameron wreaking havoc on defense, the Spartans took control.
Wilson picked up a steal and a fastbreak basket to tie the score at 35 with 5:28 remaining, and Maurice completed the 9-0 run with another bucket on the break for a 37-35 lead.
ECH’s Robert Wilson tied it on an offensive rebound, but Cameron gave the Spartans (7-8, 2-3 PAC-6) the lead for good with another layup. Wilson (10 points) made two crucial free throws with 47 seconds left, and Southern’s defense continued to harass the Wildcats (9-6, 0-3).
“Everybody who got in the game did their job, and that’s what it takes for us to win,” Hall said. “Every single person has to do their job 110 percent every single time.”
Nothing was working right for Southern in the first quarter, and the Spartans found themselves trailing 11-2 after making one of 12 shots and committing seven turnovers.
“I knew they could fight back,” Hall said. “I just don’t like having to fight back that hard. You score two points in the first quarter, which is very uncharacteristic for us. But we really weren’t playing too bad defensively. They were moving the ball well and hitting some open shots, but I knew we could dig back in and do what we do best — and that’s play defense.”
In the girls’ game, Regene Wilson scored 12 of her 23 points in a decisive second quarter to lead Southern past East Chapel Hill 52-26.
ECH led 12-9 after the first quarter before the Spartans (8-5, 4-1 PAC-6) took control over the second and third quarters. Southern outscored the Wildcats (3-10, 0-4) 31-10 in the middle two quarters to pull away.
Ali Cyr-Scully led ECH with 19 points.
Southern (B) 44, ECH 38
SOUTHERN — Shamiek Wilson 10, Tyran Cameron 9, Isiah Maurice 8, Vince Phillips 4, Amari Hamilton 4, Marvin Tillman 3, Ben Johnson 2, Javon Riley 2, Jerrick Richmond 2.
EAST CHAPEL HILL — Justen Best 12, Robert Wilson 8, Jake Hilkey 5, Arkavius Parks 5, Tykeem Woodard 4, Louis Levin 3, Dylan Ferrow 2.
3-point FG—Southern 2 (Cameron, Wilson 1), East Chapel Hill 4 (Best 2, Parks 1, Levin 1). Total fouls—Southern 12, East Chapel Hill 16.
Records—Southern 7-8, 2-3 PAC-6; East Chapel Hill 9-6, 0-3.
Southern (G) 52, ECH 36
SOUTHERN — Regene Watson 23, Sydni Dobson 9, Addis Lemons 6, Arianna Tillman 4, Alexis Joyner 4, Brianna Dowd 2, Jayla Futrell 2, Varen Burford 2.
EAST CHAPEL HILL — Ali Cyr-Scully 19, Teara Holt 7, Jirreney Colbert 4, Riley Foster 4, Jazmine Daye 2, Adrienne Davis 2.
East Chapel Hill|12|8|2|14—36
3-point FG—Southern 2 (Tillman 1, Watson 1), East Chapel Hill 3 (Cyr-Scully 2, Holt 1). Total fouls—Southern 13, East Chapel Hill 13.
Records—Southern 8-5, 4-1 PAC-6; East Chapel Hill 3-10, 0-4.