Greene Central boys, South Lenoir girls pick up victories
Greene Central's Hysaan Hudson is pressured by South Lenoir's Rico Freeman in Friday's game. Photo by William “Bud” Hardy / Neuse News
DEEP RUN | Hysaan Hudson wasn't going to let Greene Central get upset Friday.
Hudson scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the second half as the Rams defeated South Lenoir 56-48. The Blue Devils led by as many as 16, but Hudson's shooting helped Greene Central (11-5, 5-0 Eastern Carolina Conference) remain undefeated in conference play despite star center Imajae Dodd sidelined for the game due to injury.
"I've got to give credit to Coach (Blue Edwards)," Hudson said. "He calls the plays, we moved the ball around and I got the ball in good spots. I'm confident with my shot and I didn't have much trouble knocking them down."
South Lenoir (2-12, 0-5) never trailed in the game's first three quarters and used an 11-0 run to start the second to go up 23-10. A basket from Damani Raines put the Blue Devils up by 14 late in the first half and while the Rams cut it to 30-19 at halftime, South Lenoir started the third with a Jensen Barwick 3-pointer, followed by a C.J. Kennion basket.
Trailing 35-19, Greene Central got back in the game with the perimeter shot. The Rams nailed seven in the second half, including one from Hudson in the waning seconds of the third to cut the deficit to 43-35. Kentrell Suggs hit one from beyond the arc to start the fourth as part of a 15-2 run, ending with Hudson 3-pointer to give the Rams their first lead of the game at 47-45 with 3:11 to play.
"We spent the first half in a funk and I told the guys 'we dug ourselves into a hole and we have to find a way out,'" Edwards said. "I didn't care how we did it, but I'm glad the guys played with a lot of heart and poise to get back in it."
South Lenoir couldn't take the lead back, as the team shot 1 of 14 in the final frame.
"I'm frustrated for the guys," South Lenoir coach Jeremy Barnett said. "I don't think there's a team that plays as consistently hard as them and it hurts their hard work hasn't translated to many wins. We're right there, but in the fourth we missed about six or seven point-blank looks. If we could get a couple of those, you might have a different story."
There was a postgame scrum between the teams, an action Edwards apologized for.
"I was trying to protect my players and when I should've been a cooler head, I was in the center of it," Edwards said. "This was on me and I can assure that this will never happen again with this team as long as I'm coaching."
Jekael Gay scored 13 points and Suggs added 10 for Greene Central. For South Lenoir, Rico Freeman had 11 points and Jaeden Dixon added 10.
In the girls' game, South Lenoir never trailed in a 46-20 victory.
"(Thursday) we had a 2-hour practice and the first half had nothing to do with basketball," South Lenoir coach Donald Mooring said. "It was about doing the little things and staying focused. It carried to this game, especially on defense."
The Blue Devils (7-7, 2-3) started the game on a 7-2 run, capped off with a Neziah Leporte 3-pointer. Two free throws from Leaudrea Mason stopped the run for the Rams (0-15, 0-5), but the Blue Devils scored the last nine points of the first quarter, including Taniejah Mitchell's layup as time expired.
"(Gralicia Jenkins) was making great passes and it really got us going on offense," Mitchell said.
Jenkins had six of her eight assists in the first half as the Blue Devils went up 31-9. South Lenoir would go up by as many as 30 in the second half.
"My shot was off, but that was OK," Jenkins said. "I wanted to get my teammates involved, and as long as they're scoring and we win it's all good."
Greene Central coach Tammy Elbert said the team took a step back, but will learn from this one.
"I think they wanted to do so well they overthought throughout the game," Elbert said. "We're still developing and getting better each day."
Tiffany Croom scored 11 points for South Lenoir while Kaliya Sutton led Greene Central with nine.