Takin’ it slow

Published 12:04 am Saturday, January 26, 2013

Straughn’s JD Driver drives to the basket during the Tigers’ 73-48 victory over the Panthers Friday night. Driver scored 17 points and added seven rebounds, eight assists and four steals in the win. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn holds Excel scoreless in 3rd period, wins 73-48

Straughn outscored Excel 19-0 in the third period and the Tigers rolled to a 73-48 area victory over the Panthers on Friday night.

The host Tigers only held a meager 42-38 lead at halftime, where SHS coach Rusty Andrews told the players to slow it down a bit and let Excel put up some shots.

“We played defense in the second half like we were supposed to,” Andrews said. “In the first half, we kind of got in an up-and-down tempo game with them and that’s not to our advantage.

“We want to run some and we wanted to run some when we had the advantage, not just up and down the floor like we did in the first half,” he said.

With this victory, Straughn clinched the Class 3A, Area 2 regular-season title and will host the area tournament, which starts in early February. The Tigers improve to 14-5 overall, and 5-1 in area.

Straughn got things going in the third period when big-man Hobie Hughes found Devin Scott open for an easy bucket.

Throughout the first half, Excel had been dogging SHS either on drives to the lane or frequent made shots from the perimeter, thanks to Excel’s Christian Gross, who proved to be a versatile threat.

The Tigers would cheat on pressure, which would leave an open man on the other side of the court for an easy shot.

Andrews said he urged his Tigers to get back in the 2-3 zone defensive formation and wait for the rebound.

“I told them if you get an eight or nine-point lead, we’re going to pull it out and make them go man,” he said. “Then, we’re going to wear them out underneath. That’s exactly what we did.”

Earlier in the second period, Hughes picked up his third foul of the game and didn’t show any signs of easing up in the third period, where he made two successful 3-ball play attempts on fouls.

Hughes converted the first 3-ball play, got the rebound on the second miss and found Devin Scott who then layed it in to put the game out of reach for EHS at 51-38.

Hughes scored eight of his 18 points in the third period.

“That was the problem we had in the fist half,” Andrews said about Hughes. “We couldn’t have run some of the offense we liked to. We had a discussion and they took care of business. I’m very proud of them. They’ve worked really hard and they’re getting rewarded for it. We’ve just got to make that next step.”

JD Driver hit a 3-pointer to send the game to a running clock with 4:39 left in the contest. The Tigers led 71-40.

Driver scored the second-most points at 17 and added seven rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Hughes added five rebounds; Devin Scott had eight points, four rebounds and four steals; and Brice Scott had six points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Andrews noted that the Tigers in fact rebound well.

“We do a good job rebounding the ball and that’s the key to our success,” he said. “If we don’t rebound well, we can’t run what we need to.”

Straughn led 8-2 early in the first period on a Driver 3-pointer with more than six minutes remaining.

Jasper Bowdoin, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to drive the score up to 14-4.

Later on, Excel went on a short 6-0 run to cut the game to 16-10 with 3:30 left in the first period.

SHS let Excel come back as the Panthers cut the lead to 20-17 on a 3-pointer by Rayford Dale late in the first period.

However, the Tigers closed the period out with a 4-0 run and a 24-17 lead.

Dekota Welker drained a trey to cut the game to its closest difference at 32-31 with 3:58 left in the first half.

Gross scored 16 points to lead the Panthers. Dale had 10 points.

When asked how it feels to host the area tournament, Andrews said really good.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said. “We hope everyobdy comes out and watches us. We’ve got a good ball club and there will be a lot of good ball clubs here.”

In B-team action, Straughn won 55-20.

Marshall Farley and Jonathan Driver had eight points each. Ja’Quan Samuel had six points.

In varsity girls action, the Lady Tigers took apart Excel in a 72-9 thrashing.

SHS led 22-0 at the end of the first period and 37-6 at halftime.

Mariah Bonham, who scored eight points off the bench, drained a trey to give SHS a 62-9 advantage in her team’s 25-3 outscoring of a third period.

While the game was already contested, SHS coach Scott Kinsaul sent in his ninth grade girls for the remainder of the game with more than four minutes to go.

Freshman Kristen Peavey led the group with six points off the bench.

Brittany Driver led the varsity girls with 17 points. Jacie Williamson had 16 poins. Taylor Wood had eight points. Paige Taylor had five points and Emily Wood had four points.

Straughn visits Kinston on Monday.