Despite senior PJ Samuels 14 points and 10 rebounds, South Stokes couldn’t overcome some fatal mistakes down the stretch and experienced their first loss of the season on Wednesday night.
The Sauras fell to 3A North Forsyth in a 52-51 non-conference matchup.
“They packed it in on us and dared us to shoot from the outside,” said South Stokes coach Jason Clark. “We had many open looks, but couldn’t knock down the jump shots. We turned the ball over at the end of the game when we were up one point. We need to take better care of the ball in those situations. All we can do is learn from it and move on. Hopefully it will make us better in the long haul.”
The Sauras fell behind 8-2 and didn’t score their first field goal of the game until Samuels connected from inside the lane at the 2:22 mark.
Ben Bowen opened the second period with back-to-back buckets and cut the Viking’s lead to one point. Samuels scored again on the inside and Brady Dudley hit two-three pointers on consecutive trips down the floor to knot the score at 24 going into the locker room.
“It was a struggle in the first half,” Clark said. “I thought our inside presence was there with Ben and PJ, but we couldn’t consistently hit the outside shot. That hurt us.”
The Sauras took their first lead of the game on a basket by Samuels. The visitors held the advantage until Kedric Hickman hit a three-pointer with three minutes left in the quarter for a 31-30 led. South Stokes responded and took the lead back at 38-37 when Wesley Misenheimer drove the lane and converted a layup with 15 seconds showing on the game clock.
South Stokes extended their edge to 39-37 on a free throw to start the fourth quarter, but North Forsyth responded with eight quick points on back-to-back three pointers giving his team a 45-39 leg-up. At 4:57 left in the game, Samuels was aggressive on the offensive board and helped the Sauras get back in the game by sparking an 8-0 run that put them in front 47-45.
North Forsyth sunk a three-pointer with 1:43 left on the clock. Point guard Tyliq Hairston drove the lane and spilt the defense for a 49-48 score, but Hickman converted two free throws on the other end to give the edge back to North. After Hairston drove the lane and put the Sauras back up by one with 39 seconds left, the Vikings missed the front end of a one-and-one and South Stokes missed three opportunities to get the rebound. North hustled and scored the go-ahead basket with 4.8 seconds left in the contest. Hairston drove the length of the floor, but the Vikings had a foul to give with 1.3 seconds left. The Sauras could never get the ball inbounds and turned it over to end the game.
“Again, we had our chances and just didn’t get the job done,” Clark said. “Our schedule doesn’t get any easier from here on out. We need to keep competing and start hitting some of those outside shots to loosen up the defense.”
Bowen led the Sauras with 17 points, Samuels chipped in 14 and Dudley and Hairston each added six.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.