South Stokes welcomed Frank Spencer champion and Northwest 1A Conference opponent Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy to Walnut Cove on Friday night. The Phoenix ranked fourth and Sauras fifth in the latest Maxprep ranking gave the packed gym a thrilling game all the way to the end. The home team led for 28 of the 32 minutes only to see WS-Prep come back from a 10 point deficit in the second half to win 66-65.
“Our kids played great tonight and we put ourselves in position to win,” said Saura coach Jason Clark. “The shots we were making early in the game weren’t going in towards the end. I told our kids not to hang their heads because it may not have shown on the scoreboard, but we were the better team tonight.”
Chaz Gywn put the Phoenix on the board quickly and hit his first of six three-pointers of the night 30-seconds into the game. PJ Samuels made two free throws and then Tyliq Hairston put the Sauras up with a driving layup with 6:14 left in the opening quarter. Senior Ben Bowen ignited a South run with an offensive rebound and the home team outscored the Phoenix 12-3 and took a 22-11 advantage with 1:09 left in the period. Prep was able to cut into the Sauras lead when they tallied four points in the last few seconds to trail 23-15.
Winston-Salem opened the second quarter and cut the deficit to two points at 27-25 with over six minutes left in the period. Bowen dropped in five points, while Brady Dudley knocked down two huge three-pointers over the next three minutes and South’s edge grew to 38-28. Both teams traded baskets for the remaining time of the quarter and the Sauras had a 42-34 advantage at the half.
“We executed well and kept them out of the lane until the second half,” said Clark. “They hit some big shots and converted on uncontested layups at the end. That was back breaking.”
The Phoenix pushed the Sauras in the third quarter, but the home team never relinquished the lead and still had a 57-53 edge going into the last eight minutes of the game. Corey Rutherford hit his fourth three-pointer of the game to cut South’s advantage to 59-56 and then Gwyn nailed a three with 3:27 to knot the game at 61. Justin Goodloe made a layup and put the visitors up 63-61. Hairston stole the ball near mid-court and drove for two points to tie the game at 63. Coming out of a timeout by the Phoenix, Gwyn rained a three-pointer from the right wing to put his team up 66-63 with 1:49 left in the contest. Wesley Misenheimer grabbed an offensive rebound for South to cut the deficit to 66-65 19 seconds later. Neither team could score the remainder of the game. The Sauras had several opportunities and suffered a missed free throw on the front end of a one-and-one along with a blocked shot as the time expired.
“I just hate it for our kids,” Clark echoed. “We had the game and let it slip away. We have to win games like this on our home court. It doesn’t get any easier for us because we play Bishop next week and they are ranked second in the state. We’ll learn from this and move on.”
Bowen led the Sauras with 28 points, 18 rebounds and six blocked shots, while Dudley added 15. Gwyn led the Phoenix with 22 points and Rutherford and Daivien Williamson had 14 each.
The Sauras (11-4, 0-2) will travel to Bishop McGuinness (14-1, 1-0) on Friday and take on the Villains in a pivotal conference game for both teams.
James leads Lady Sauras past Phoenix
Senior Ashley James led the Sauras with 14 points and 10 rebounds as they overcame a sluggish first half against Winston-Salem Prep to win 50-34 in a Northwest 1A Conference game.
“We were out of rhythm the whole first half,” said Saura coach Rodney Matthews. “The long layover from the holidays seemed to affect us more than I thought. We had better ball movement in the second half and our defense got us some easy baskets.”
The Sauras battled the adversity of missed layups and poor decision making to lead 20-19 at the half. The home team opened up the second half by making five-of-six free throws to take a 25-19 advantage and then went on to lead 33-29 with one quarter to play.
South Stokes defense and offense were in sync in the fourth period and they outscored the visitors 17-5 behind the inside play of James and Antoinette France.
“We made better decisions in the second half and our rebounding was key tonight,” Matthews said. “We really focused on rebounding in practice and it paid off. Our team goes as Tatyana (Childress) goes and she had a great second half.”
James led her team with 14 points, France added 12 and Childress nine. Trezha Muhammad led the Phoenix with 16 points.
South Stokes (5-10, 1-1) will travel to Bishop McGuinness (8-6, 2-0) on Friday for a Northwest Conference game.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.