West Craven boys, South Lenoir girls pick up conference wins
West Craven traveled to South Lenoir on Friday night hoping to solidify a top three finish in the conference. The Blue Devils were hoping to spoil those plans.
Despite being outsized and outshot, South Lenoir kept fighting back. However, they had given them an early lead that they could not claw back from. The Eagles took the contest, 65-44.
“To be honest, I felt this game was pretty ugly,” South Lenoir coach Jeremy Barnett said. “The effort was poor. The execution was poor. The shooting was poor. The toughness was poor. And I will take responsibility and say the coaching was poor too. We were not focused on what we needed to do right from the start. You can’t go into a game like this with an opponent like West Craven when you are not focused."
“We had to grind this one out,” West Craven coach David Fernandez said. “South Lenoir is not their record. Coach Barnett does a great job and they kept coming after us all four periods. You can’t deny that they played us hard all four periods. I wish we had their intensity as we kept letting them back in at times.”
Jensen Barwick got the first score of the game, almost two minutes in, with a deep three-pointer from the left corner for South Lenoir. The Blue Devils would have a small lead until Laqueze Campbell sank a three point shot from the top of the circle. Combined with Caleb McKeel’s six points in the first four minutes, the Eagles were able to start rolling on offense. On defense, West Craven was able to shut down South Lenoir, who didn’t score in a four-minute stretch in the middle of the quarter. The Blue Devils were able to find their scoring touch near the end of the quarter, but still were down 15-11 after one.
“We came back here to say our prayer before the game when the coach told me he needed me to start tonight,” McKeel said. “I knew I had to step up and do what I had to do for the team. You can’t take a break on a team like South Lenoir.”
The Eagles would start the second on a 7 -0 run, including a three-point shot from Latrell Campbell. A late run by West Craven put them up 39-25 at halftime.
“We had made it a six point game after letting them get ahead,” Barnett said. “We couldn’t box our and then gave up a three pointer. After about eight seconds, we were suddenly down 11. You can’t make a mistake like that and get away with it.”
South Lenoir would outscore West Craven for most of the third period until Latrell Campbell’s three-point jumper near the end of the quarter gave them a 52-36 cushion. Laqueze Campbell shot another trey, his third of the night, to open up the fourth as West Craven cruised to victory.
McKeel scored 19 points, Laqueze Campbell would score 16 points, and his brother, Latrell, added 12.
C.J. Kennion would lead South Lenoir with 10 points. Damani Raines added nine.
WEST CRAVEN: McKeel 19, Laqueze Campbell 16, Latrell Campbell 12, D Campbell 6, Yates 4, Jones 4, Inmam 3, Gillyard 1
SOUTH LENOIR: Kennion 10, Raines 9, Dixon 7, Freeman 7, Barwick 5, Wiggins 2, Thigpen 2, McClain 2
In the girls' game, South Lenoir took an early lead and never let it go, winning 49-26.
“Our girls struggled to go to work offensively,” West Craven Lea Wedesky said. “Normally, we are a good defensive team. We tried four or five different defensive schemes on South Lenoir tonight and they didn’t seem to work.”
West Craven also struggled as star senior Deslyn Abrams was hampered with a lingering ankle injury, that kept her sidelined for key stretches in the game. Abrams would lead the Eagles with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Tiffany Croom put the Blue Devils on the board first with a long three-point jump shot. South Lenoir would go on a 4-0 run near the end of the first to take an 11-7 lead.
“I knew we had to do a better job against Abrams. She is someone who can take control of a game,” South Lenoir coach Donald Mooring said.” I felt that our Box-1 scheme frustrated her pretty well. She wasn’t able to get loose. And I think that was the key to this game. I think containing her allowed us to do our thing and not have to worry about her.”
Both teams found their scoring touch at the start of the second. Taniejah Mitchell, who scored 15 points, sank a three-pointer for the Blue Devils that helped to jump start their offense. Destiny Hall, who led the team with 17 points, converted two steals into layups as well as a fade away three pointer. The Blue Devils would hold a 28-14 at halftime.
After giving up the first basket of the second half to the Eagles, South Lenoir went on a 13-0 run. The Blue Devils would be up 41-20 heading into the fourth quarter. The Eagles would go on a 5-0 run to start the fourth, but they were too far behind to catch up.
“We need to play a complete basketball game,” Wedesky said. “Sometimes we click on offense and not on defense and sometimes the other way around. We’ve struggled to have a complete game all season. Something is always off: pressing, free throws, boxing out. We need to be consistent down the stretch.”
“Right now, we just have to go to Washington to win, and that is a hard place to play at,” Mooring said. “We can’t concern ourselves with anything after that. We will see what we need to do after that. All we can do is stay positive.”
WEST CRAVEN: Abrams 11, Simmons 6, Brautigam 4, Ringer 2, Gurley 1, Jones 1, Felder 1
SOUTH LENOIR: Hall 17, Mitchell 15, Croom 7, Jenkins 4, Howard 4, Kopanski 2