The Lady Gators fought from beginning to end against Clinton, but the Dark Horses had too much offense to overcome. Meanwhile, the boys made it all the way to the East Central Confernce tournament championship game against Goldsboro. The Gators made a strong comeback effort but came up just short 78-72.
First quarter sets the tone for Dark Horses
Spring Creek’s women’s basketball team has had tough year, but they fought hard in Tuesday’s loss to Clinton. The Lady Dark Horses showed up early and often in the first quarter and they built a 23-10 lead going into the second quarter. Spring Creek scored 13 points in the second quarter, but continued to struggle on the defensive side as they gave 18 points which put them down 41-23 at the end of the first half. Clinton dropped 24 points in the third quarter which broke the game open and Clinton’s defense held the Lady Gators to only five points, giving them a 65-28 lead going into the fourth quarter. Spring Creek didn’t quit fighting despite being down as they dropped 20 points and held Clinton to six in the fourth, but the Dark Horses had built a significant lead already. The Gators’ big fourth wasn’t enough to complete the comeback as they lost 71-48. Spring Creek finished the season with an 0-12 conference record and a 2-21 overall record.
Gators chomp on to conference championship game
As expected, the game between James Kenan and Spring Creek was pretty fast paced as both teams tried to find their rhythm. Junior Tyrese Artis had a fantastic start of the game. The other Gators fed the 6’3” forward down low and he capitalized on almost every opportunity, scoring eight points in the first quarter alone. Fellow junior Maxx Williams and senior Javon Newsome aren’t really known for their 3-point shooting abilities, but both added threes in the quarter that helped the Gators take a 17-15 lead going into the second period.
Spring Creek answered every challenge the Tigers handed them, but the Tigers answered the Gators as well and Spring Creek went into the locker room holding on to a slim two-point lead at 34-32. The third quarter was as back and forth as the first two quarters were, neither team willing to budge. Artis was almost unguardable in the third quarter as he scored 10 of the team’s 17 points. Spring Creek was able to manage the lead and ended the third quarter with a 51-48 advantage.
The Gators saved their best for last as they had their best quarter of the night in the final eight minutes, giving up only 13 points while scoring 23, their most of the night. Spring Creek began to pull away thanks to 10 points from Morse, eight of which came at the free throw line. Senior Demartae Bizzell finished with 13 points and Artis had a huge night with 30 points to help Spring Creek knock off James Kenan for the second time this season in their own gym, 74-61.
Goldsboro-Spring Creek: Round Three
With the season series tied up at one game apiece, Friday night’s matchup between the Cougars and the Gators was set to be an epic showdown between two of the toughest teams in the area.
After missing their first couple shots, Goldsboro got hot and went on a 7-0 run early in the first quarter. A streaky team in their own right, Spring Creek finally got a bucket to go in and began to make their way back into the ballgame, outscoring Goldsboro 13-11 for the remainder of the quarter. Trailing 18-13 at the start of the second quarter, Spring Creek began to spark a comeback as the Gators dropped 21 points in the period. Morse and Artis led the Gators in the second quarter, scoring six points each, and Bizzell continued his hot shooting by adding a three in the quarter.
The Gators felt they had the momentum going their way, but Goldsboro is a very scrappy team and they were able to maintain the lead despite the run from Spring Creek. Goldsboro got the final say in the half and took all of the momentum going into the locker room as they got a three-point basket that bounced around before falling in, giving the Cougars a 40-34 lead going into the break.
To no surprise, the third quarter was a back and forth affair between both squads. Neither team really separated themselves and that was thanks to tough, gritty defense from both sides. Bizzell had a big quarter for the Gators on the offensive end. The 5’6” guard had seven of the team’s 15 points in the third quarter, but even with the effort on both ends of the court, Goldsboro finished the third quarter up 53-49.
Fans watching the fourth quarter were treated to an offensive onslaught. Each team came out swinging, throwing their best shots and hoping that the other would fold under the pressure. But neither team did. There were a handful of turnovers from each team and the game came down to who could capitalize on the other’s mistakes. Spring Creek had some chances to take advantage of Goldsboro’s mishaps, but some uncharacteristic turnovers ultimately cost the Gators late and caused them to play catchup the entire fourth quarter. Artis contributed with eight points in the fourth quarter and Bizzell and Morse both scored big-time threes, but even with 23 points scored in the fourth quarter, Spring Creek failed to get enough stops, resulting in a 78-72 loss.
Spring Creek (19-7) is now in postseason mode, as they are the No. 13 seed on the east side of the 2A playoff bracket. They will host No. 20 (15-11) seed Bertie Tuesday night at 6.