KNIGHTDALE — It was clear early on that Knightdales goal was to get off to a fast start against Garner, the kind of fast start the Trojans are known for, in their boys basketball meeting Tuesday night.
That strategy paid off for the Knights as they built a double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter and stood firm when Garner surged, to claim a 72-41 league win over the Trojans.
That was one of the things we wanted to do, was to come out and hopefully build a lead on them and see how they would respond, Knightdale coach Anthony Byrd said. We also told our guys theres going to be some runs in the game. Garner has a history of coming back and theyre going to knock you in the mouth, and youve got to withstand that and keep on fighting.
Our guys fought hard and came out with a very good win.
Knightdale improved to 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference with the win, while Garner slid to 5-7, 2-2.
Were dealing with a bunch of youngsters who cant handle adversity, Garner coach Eddie Gray said. We didnt do a very good job starting the game. We had a few spurts in there, but when your leading scorer is a freshman, youre in trouble.
With 19 points, the freshman Gray referred to, Alex Reed, was the only Trojans player to score in double figures. Reed was right in the mix in two notable runs by Garner.
With his team trailing 19-4 near the end of the first frame, he provided a spark with a putback that marked the Trojans first basket in over four minutes. Five minutes later, a third-look basket by sophomore guard Nick Kuhns had Garner within 25-20.
Reed also produced back-to-back scores, including a 3-pointer, to cut Garners deficit to 17 after they had fallen 25 points behind early in the third quarter.
But the Knights had an answer to each shove by the Trojans.
We didnt panic, Byrd said. We got back in our offense and got a couple transition baskets and were able to get to the free throw line. And there was a whole lot of Daquan Lilly.
Lilly, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, matched Reeds 12 first-half points and went on to post a game-high 21. The option of dishing to the big target in the lane helped Knightdale reinstate an 11-point lead at halftime after Garners most imposing surge.
A two-hand jam by Lilly and a breakaway score by Ronshad Allen-Shabazz capped an 8-0 Knights run inside the final minute and put the game on ice. Allen-Shabazz added 16 for Knightdale.
Garner committed 21 turnovers to Knightdales 12.
Until we start taking better care of the ball and understanding what were trying to accomplish, and get some leadership, were going to have nights like that, Gray said. Plus, Knightdale has got a very good basketball team.
Byrd expects a different showing from the Trojans when the teams meet for a rematch in February at Garner.
We know when we play Garner next time theyll be ready to play and it wont be the same type of ballgame, he said.
Moody: 919-829-4806; Twitter: @easternwakenews