Smith: Saints have to figure it out

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DUDLEY – Where is that 5-0 team?

Southern Wayne head boys’ basketball coach Dwight Sutton is scratching his noggin’ and asking himself the same question after a 76-48 loss to reigning 4-A state champ South Central.

The Saints, no doubt, are in a tailspin.

Smith’s squad is 1-9 since a road loss at Northern Nash on Dec. 6.

“We’ve got to get back at it and figure out if we want to play basketball or not,” Smith said. “We’ve got to figure it out in practices, got to figure it out among themselves. We’ve got to work harder.”

Jamari Leach tallied a quiet 20 points, including nine in the final quarter.

Lenier Rocknett just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Jeremiah Anderson and Nadayvion Pemberton combined for 16 rebounds.

South Central owned a 12-11 lead after one period and extended it to 26-17 at intermission.

Leach and Jabari Pearsall each hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter for the Saints, who have dropped all 15 meetings against the Falcons since 2014.

Smith attributed the second-quarter fadeout to mental toughness.

“I try to ‘chalk-talk’ that we’ve got to be mentally tough,” Smith said. “We relaxed and you can’t relax with that team. That team will turn it [intensity] up just like that. They’re going to fight every minute.”

South Central’s advantage swelled to 17 after three quarters.

Travon Ward emerged as the Falcons’ lone double-figure scorer with 25 points.

GIRLS

Southern Wayne might have found its niche - defense and rebounding.

The Saints displayed both phases of the game in convincing fashion during a shocking 39-26 triumph over South Central.

Ta’niyah Glaspie wiped the glass for an eye-popping 20 rebounds, while teammate Ty’lisha Maye collected nine of the team’s season-high 22 steals. The Saints coerced the reigning Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference champs to commit an uncharacteristic 30 turnovers.

“Absolutely a shocking win,” assistant SW coach Takisha Vann said. “We’ve been struggling with mental toughness over the years. We’re going to play hard, but when things get tight and are not going our way, I commend the girls on finishing because there have been times where we have unraveled when things got like that.

“That’s basketball.”

Especially in the second half.

South Central whittled the Saints’ 18-point halftime lead to 33-20 after three quarters.

Southern Wayne (9-7, 3-1 ECC) didn’t convert a fourth-quarter field goal, but closed the door on the Falcons at the free throw line. Glaspie (eight points) and Aleesha Boyette (11 points) combined to drain six of eight attempts.

Glaspie snared seven rebounds in the final period.

“She’s really key for us,” Vann said. “She knows her role. She’s young and knows that’s her thing...makes it happen. When she’s getting rebounds, going back up and getting an ‘and one’ or passing it back out, she’s a fit to contain.”

Boyette finished with 11 points, five steals, four rebounds and two assists.

Jamaiya Bess added 10 points, four steals and five rebounds for the Saints, who halted a 12-game losing streak in the series.

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