South Lenoir defeats Jones Senior in boys, girls basketball
TRENTON | South Lenoir wasn't going to lose a big lead in a second straight game.
The Blue Devils held off Jones Senior 72-64 Monday to snap a 6-game skid. The Blue Devils (3-12) couldn't hold on to a 16-point lead against Greene Central Friday and although the Trojans (3-10) tried to make a comeback, it wasn't enough.
"It feels good to get this one," South Lenoir guard Rico Freeman said. "We had been battling these past 14 games and kept working. We had to defend and rebound to get this win, and the scoring took care of itself."
After a Josh Richardson basket put Jones Senior ahead 8-5, South Lenoir closed out the first on an 18-2 run, highlighted by a combined 13 points from Freeman and Dante Ellis. South Lenoir dominated in the first half, going up by as many as 17 and taking a 38-24 lead into the break.
Richardson would lead a furious comeback in the third quarter, scoring 12 points, helping the Trojans carve into the gap. Detorian Brown's two free throws late in the frame cut the South Lenoir lead to 48-43 and after C.J. Kennion's steal and layup started the fourth right for the Blue Devils, Syheen Sauls answered with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four.
Kennion and Sauls traded baskets before two Freeman free throws started a 7-0 run to give South Lenoir separation. Jones Senior wouldn't get within seven for the remainder of the game.
The Blue Devils shot just 1 of 14 in the fourth quarter Friday, but made up for it against the Trojans with a 9 of 13 effort.
"We hit (5 of 6) 3-pointers in the first quarter, and it was almost like fools gold," South Lenoir coach Jeremy Barnett said. "We started settling, but we did a much better job finishing at the rim late. It was a much-needed win and I'm proud of the guys."
Jones Senior coach Dexter Cannon said it was a tale of two halves.
"In the first half, we didn't play with that enthusiasm and hustle we needed," Cannon said. "In the second, we played our style of basketball and were more intense defensively, which helped us come back."
Freeman scored 17 points, Damani Raines added 14 and Kennion contributed 11 for South Lenoir. For Jones Senior, Richardson poured in 29 points and Brown added 15.
In the girls' game, South Lenoir started slow but recovered in a 51-32 victory.
The Blue Devils (8-7) started 0-7 with four turnovers as Dymond Foye staked the Trojans (1-11) to a 5-0 lead. South Lenoir's Taniejah Mitchell and Tiffany Croom scored all the points in a 9-0 run to put the Blue Devils on top after the first. Jones Senior's Tanayja Green hit two free throws to tie it at 11 early in the second, but Mitchell hit a 3-pointer to spark a 12-0 South Lenoir run the team would never look back from.
"We didn't have it going early on offense, but our defense became the key," Mitchell said.
South Lenoir forced 18 turnovers in the first half on the way to a 28-15 halftime advantage. Mitchell and Croom each scored 13 to pace the Blue Devils early.
"My shot wasn't falling earlier in the season and I had to keep telling myself to focus on the little things to get back on track," Croom said.
South Lenoir led by as many as 22 in the second half.
"I tried to get as many players experience as I could," South Lenoir coach Donald Mooring said. "Taniejah came up big for us scoring-wise, Tiffany stepped up and our defensive intensity was great."
Mitchell finished with a game-high 26 points, Croom added 15 and Gralicia Jenkins provided eight points with 10 assists. For Jones Senior, Foye scored 12 and Green added 10.