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KENLY — Adversity surfaced in different forms for each team in host North Johnston High’s 64-51 2-A Eastern Plains Conference varsity boys basketball victory against Beddingfield on Tuesday evening.
Despite early foul trouble, a total of just five points from senior Kameron Williams, the conference’s leading scorer; and being outrebounded 54-34, the Panthers evened their conference mark at 1-1 and improved to 8-5 overall going into Wednesday night’s home conference game against North Pitt.
The taller, deeper Bruins experienced foul problems as well but couldn’t capitalize on their huge rebounding advantage. Beddingfield was plagued by a rash of unforced turnovers and a paltry 17 of 67 shooting from the floor for 24-percent accuracy. The Bruins couldn’t finish putbacks and shots from close range, wasting excellent entry passes. Over-passing also took a toll as the Bruins tumbled to 1-1 in the conference and to 5-6 against all foes.
“A month and a half ago, I would have said ‘no,’” head coach Chris Batten commented in reference to North Johnston being able to win a conference game with Williams, averaging 20 points per game, limited to five. “But, lately, we have been in games where we played well and got production from other people.
“But he drew a lot of attention and that opened up things for other people. He did a good job of not forcing matters because they were trying to take him out of the game.”
Several Panthers stepped up.
Senior Rakim Stancil netted 14 points; senior Trey Whitley and Savon Foye added 12 each; and junior Daylan Hinnant came off the bench to knock down 11 points. Whitley claimed eight rebounds and Hinnant seven.
“We just shared the ball and played as a team,” Foye reasoned. “We moved the ball and played good defense. We are a small team and we’ve got to play bigger than the next team. Defense was big.”
Beddingfield was triggered by 6-foot-4 senior Octavius Lacey with 23 points and nine rebounds. Nasiar Blackston also pulled down nine missed shots, while Nahje Pittman had eight rebounds.
The Bruins were coming off a resounding conference-opening win against North Pitt, and head coach Joe Dvozenja reacted: “Are we Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or what?
“You can’t go to their place and not play well. We didn’t bring our ‘A’ game; we just didn’t have it. It was terrible. They played the game we wanted to play.”
Despite foul problems for Williams and Foye early, the Panthers erased a 2-0 deficit with a 11-0 tear and Hinnant came off the bench to spark North Johnston to a 19-10 margin after one quarter.
The Bruins finally reclaimed the lead at 24-23 on a Lacey bucket with 4:12 left in the first half. However, sophomore Justin Vann, who was slowed by four fouls, scored to trigger a 6-0 run that resulted in North Johnston not trailing again.
In the third quarter, the Bruins whittled an eight-point deficit to three. Leading 49-43 after three quarters, the Panthers opened the final period with successive baskets from Stancil, Whitley and senior Matt Broadway for a 55-43 cushion.
Beddingfield could not answer.
“We made a great comeback,” Dvozenja commented, “but we couldn’t get over that hump and pull away.”
North Johnston did.
“We didn’t want to end up 0-2 in the conference,” Batten said.
Cooper 5, Lacey 23, Langston 4, Artis, Speight, Pittman, Brantley 6, Best 7, Blackston, Witherspoon, Wilder 6.
NORTH JOHNSTON (64)
Williams 5, Vann 4, Hinnant 11, Stancil 14, Broadway 6, Barnes, Whitley 12, Foe 12, Dicon, Santiago.
Score by quarters:
Beddingfield 10 18 15 8 — 51
North Johnston 19 13 17 15 — 64