WENDELL — Corinth Holders boys basketball team found its offensive touch just in time to rally by rival South Johnston Friday night for a 39-34 victory. The Pirates pulled even with Cleveland, Triton and Smithfield-Selma at 1-1 in the Two Rivers 3A Conference with the victory.
It wasn’t a beautiful start for either team. South led 14-11 at the half, but both teams had open shot after open shot miss the mark.
Pirates coach Chris Davis said he thought his team came out a little too eager with too much “nervous energy.” And the Pirates’ production on the offensive end showed it. The first half was a myriad of missed open shots – many of them within layup range – that didn’t go down for a Corinth Holders that despite its record (2-12 overall) has been relatively productive on that end of the court.
But it was a defensive change that helped get the Pirates rolling.
“Their decision to go man, which is what we normally like to play against, worked for them and against us,” said South Johnston coach David Dewey. “But they played with great intensity in it and we didn’t respond like we should have. It was really a turning point.”
Davis debated when to go to the man defense, wary of losing the Trojans’ outside shooters and giving up more of the 3-pointers that gave South Johnston its lead.
“We’ve played more zone this season than any season I’ve coached,” Davis said. “And it can be really tough on teams but we were losing their guys in the corners and we didn’t want to let ‘0’ (Will Holmes) get going. But I knew that Hampton Smith was a great off of the ball defender and we could put him on ‘0.’ It was the spark we needed on that end.”
South, after a 14-point third quarter (which qualified as a 1980s Laker-like offensive explosion on this night), was held to seven fourth-quarter points.
Offensively, the Pirates made a spacing change that allowed them to get different cuts to the baskets going. Point guard Jake Altman came up with the idea, Davis went with it and the Pirates executed.
Alan Forest, Dymon Walker and Ki-yon Walden led the Corinth Holders offense in the second half. Forrest had all 12 of his team-high dozen points in the second half, while Walden had eight of his 10 in the second frame. Walker added four in the fourth quarter.
South Johnston led 34-28 with 4:46 to play but the Pirates scored the game’s next eight points. Forest hit a 3 to get Corinth Holders within 34-33.
“They hit a big 3 in the corner and that, with the offensive rebounds they got, it all took its toll on us,” Dewey said.
The Pirates corralled one of those offensive rebounds Dewey lamented about on their next possession – three of them – but came away with no points. But another follow up grab on the next trip downcourt by Walker of his own miss put the Pirates up 35-34 with 1:27 to play.
South (0-2 conference) would score just once the rest of the way, while Corinth Holders’ final field goal came on a great passing sequence started by Butler Collins that ended with Walker feeding Walden for a layup and a 38-35 lead with 34 seconds to play.
Holmes had a game-high 15 points for South Johnston in the loss.
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