Prep Hoops: Yellow Jackets sweep rival Bulldogs
Thomasville's boys lost to North Rowan by 20 last week. Lexington beat the Cavaliers by two. All signs pointed toward a cakewalk for the Yellow Jackets Monday in the Central Carolina Conference rivalry.
The Bulldogs decided to give them a scare instead.
Playing one of its best games of the season from start to finish, THS nearly upended Lexington, falling 72-64 in a game that was 66-64 Jackets with a minute left. The loss keeps the Bulldogs in the lower half of the standings at 2-4, but it was a loss head coach Gil Maxwell was pleased with.
“We left in on the floor and we came up short,” said Maxwell. “I don't like to lose, but I can live with the effort and sleep well tonight.”
Perhaps with a slight hangover from Friday's huge win over North Rowan, the Jackets (12-5, 5-1) were sloppy at various stages of Monday's game while the Bulldogs were piecing together one of their finer efforts. Malik Johnson was huge for THS, dropping in a game-high 22 points with 16 of them coming in the second half.
His fastbreak layup concluded a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter that dwindled a 61-52 LHS lead down to three. Later on Johnson stole the ball away and hit Demoris Payne driving in for a layup to make it 66-64 with one minute remaining. He went for the steal again near the timeline as he soared into the second row of seats beside the scoring table. His contact with Daniel Reid-Bennett was enough for the official to whistle him for a foul. It was his fifth.
Reid-Bennett connected on the free throw and Lexington slowly pulled away. Thomasville (7-10, 2-4) turned the ball over next time down, then missed a pair of shots on its next two possessions. LHS added a Raekwon Byrd layup and two free throws for the final margin.
“It was a hard-fought game of runs,” said Maxwell. “We just did not have enough at the end to close it down. I think our guys are gelling. We competed and and we played with class.”
It was a positive sign for Maxwell that his team battled back after falling behind by nine with five minutes left. At times this season the Bulldogs have crumbled when faced with adversity. It was the opposite against the Jackets. They kept up the intensity until the final horn sounded.
“They kept their composure and if we can do that game in and game out, then we can get better,” Maxwell said. “But I really liked how we competed and we did a lot of good things. We are growing. We are hard-headed sometimes, but we are learning.”
Kamel Henry gave a great effort playing all but 35 seconds in the game to finish with 13 points. The Jackets had four finish in double figures with Byrd tallying the most with 15. Lexington held a 20-rebound advantage over the much smaller Bulldogs.
Lady Jackets deal Bulldogs surprising loss
Thomasville's girls were hoping to keep close contact with CCC frontrunners East Davidson and North Rowan Monday night against a struggling Lexington squad. Instead, they fell a bit further behind and are likely playing for third place in the league now.
Foul trouble to one of its stars all night long kept the Bulldogs out of rhythm enough for the Yellow Jackets to pull off a surprising 59-56 win.
Tied midway through the first quarter, THS shooting guard Christina Coleman left the game after picking up her third foul. In her absence, the Bulldogs were still able to take a 31-25 lead into the half, but the Jackets would soon come back.
Chariti Wall began the second half with a 3-pointer, sparking a 10-1 start for Lexington that put them in front 35-32.
Lisa Burgess picked up the slack in Coleman's absence, nailing her third and fourth 3-pointers to leave the Bulldogs down only 41-40 after three.
Jashana Thomas picked up two quick fouls in the first three minutes of the final period, disqualifying her for the remainder of the night. Lexington (11-6, 3-3) capitalized with Karrigan Ellison leading the charge. Six straight points from the sophomore build a lead of seven.
“We have to play through fouls and we had some silly ones tonight,” said THS coach Brandon Staton. “There were too many of them across the board and we just have to play better defensively.
Strong bench play by the Bulldogs brought them back. Even with Coleman exiting with her fifth foul, Megan Kinley's basket with 12.2 seconds left made it 58-56. Kahari Sanders hit one of two at the line for a three-point lead. Thomasville had a shot at the horn to tie as Makayla Williams took off on a running 3-point attempt. The ball was swatted from her hands as time ran out.
“We had some turnovers here and there and that swung the momentum back to them and we could not get over that hump,” said Staton. “But our bench did a great job tonight.”
Thomasville (12-4, 3-3) left a lot of points at the line. They were 3-of-15, leaving plenty of room for the Jackets to swoop in and steal the game.
“We have got to do a better job,” said Staton. “In practice we knock them down, but in a game it is like we are not mentally ready to knock them down, especially in big games.”
Ellison netted 20 points on the night including a 10-for-15 effort at the line. Burgess' four 3-pointers were good enough to give her top scoring honors for the Bulldogs with 12. Thomas had 11 as did Kinley. Coleman was held to three points.