Dodd shines on senior night for Greene, Mitchell leads South Lenoir girls
Greene Central's Donte Johnson (33) and Imajae Dodd stand next to Rams coach Blue Edwards on Senior Night Friday. Photo by William “Bud” Hardy / Neuse News
Friday night was Senior Night as the Greene Central Rams hosted their conference rivals, the Blue Devils of South Lenoir. The gym was jumping as fans came to see Hysaan Hudson, Jekeal Gay, Donnie Finch, Donte Johnson, and Imajae Dodd play their final regular season home game.
Greene jumped out strong and didn’t look back, despite a strong early defense effort by the Blue Devils. The Rams took the contest 57-38.
“It was a great experience for us tonight,” Johnson, who scored 10 points, said. “This felt great. The crowd was very hyped up and that pushed us to do well. We wanted to give them a show on our last night here.”
Dodd kicked things off with a layup followed by a three pointer. The scoring was low in the first, but the Rams’ defense did a great job of containing South Lenoir, keyed by four blocks by Dodd. Greene was up 14-4 at the end of the first.
“It was great to get a good win like this at home, especially on senior night,” Dodd said. “The first half was a little slow, but we battled for rebounds and did better shooting in the second half.” Dodd would lead all players with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven blocks, and three steals.
“This was a good win for us,” Greene Central coach Blue Edwards said. “It was a defensive struggle for a while there early on. But, I think this is typical of senior night. The guys are all emotional and playing a little bit out of their routine. It took them a while to get settled down.”
Luke Thigpen hit a three pointer for the Blue Devils midway through the second and followed that up with a floating jumper as South Lenoir went on a 6-0 run to close the distance. The Rams attempted 14 three pointers and only connected on the one Dodd had made earlier. Greene held a 17-10 lead at halftime.
“We battled and scrapped. We did everything we could possible do,” South Lenoir coach Jeremy Barnett. “They are bigger than us and forced us to play our away from the rim. We battled on defense and ran our plays to perfection execution, especially in the first half. But for us to have a chance, we had to do that. We had to slow it down and force them to take bad shots.”
In the middle of the third, the Rams started to come alive. Dodd scored 10 points as Greene led 39-17 going into the fourth.
“We had a lot more control in the second half,” Edwards said. “We were able to get a lot of guys involved and rotate them in. That helped us to move forward and do the things that we had to do to get our game going.
Lamar Pridgen opened the final frame with two three pointers for the Rams. Donnie Finch would also score nine points in the fourth for Greene Central. South Lenoir had their best quarter of the game, scoring 15 points, but were not able to catch up.
“My team helped to motivate me to do my best,” Finch said. “Now, we want to go to the state playoffs. We want to get that championship ring because this is our last chance to make a run.”
Now that the Rams have secured the regular season conference title, they have one more game before the conference tournament. “We get three games to practice next week,” Edwards said. “We can work on our skills and hone them. I really think that we are not as good on our transition game as we can be. Dodd is a great rebounder and we should be a lot better running up the court and turning those rebounds into points.”
SOUTH LENOIR: Freeman 9, Dixon 7, Thigpen 5, Raines 2, Kennion 2, Williams 2, Carr 2, McClain 2
GREENE CENTRAL: Dodd 18, Johnson 10, Finch 9, Suggs 8, Pridgen 7, Gay 5, Taylor 3, Corbitt 2
In the girls' game, South Lenoir came out shooting and held on to win 57-38. With the win, South Lenoir improves to 5-6 in conference play and secures fourth place.
“We did what we wanted to do early on in this game,” South Lenoir coach Donald Mooring said. “We gave everyone a chance a to play meaningful minutes. We put a lot of pressure on them early on and created a lot of turnovers. That helped us transition over into points”.
Taniejah Mitchell got the Blue Devils off to a hot start, scoring eight points in the first two minutes. She was followed by Gralicia Jenkins scoring six and Destiny Hall firing off a long three point jumper. Aaliyah Davis would score a three pointer for the Rams with less than a minute to play. However, the Blue Devils still dominated the game, 23-13.
“This was a great game for us,” Mitchell said. “We came out and scored a lot early. Our defense was awesome. Now, we have to look at the next game we have coming up and push hard there like we did tonight.”
Both teams struggled to score in the second as each team combined for six points in the first half of the quarter. Mitchell would hit a three pointer near the end of the first half as South Lenoir would hold a 32-19 lead. Overall, Mitchell would lead South Lenoir with 25 points. Jenkins would have 16 and Destiny Hall would add 11.
“Taniejah is a beast,” Mooring said. “Destiny and Gralicia did a great job feeding her the ball. That’s something we’ve been working on all season. We’ve been doing a better job of that the last few games.”
The scoring struggles would continue throughout the third quarter. South Lenoir would lead the Rams, 43-25 at the end of the third. Kaliya Sutton would go on a hot streak for the Rams, scoring 9 of her 13 points in the fourth.
Looking ahead to the game against North Lenoir, Mooring stressed they need to stay consistent. “We go on these streaks often. We match up well with their size, but they are fast. We can give them a lot of defensive pressure, but have to stay consistent with our shooting.”
SOUTH LENOIR: Mitchell 25, Jenkins 16, Hall 11, Graham 4, Rohrs 1
GREENE CENTRAL: Sutton 13, Wilkins 10, Thompson 8, Davis 5, Mason 2