SEVEN SPRINGS – Crouched on the sideline, Taylor Jones watched helplessly as Spring Creek struggled to score against East Duplin in the second quarter.
In a matter of seconds, a scant one-point lead turned into a 21-13 deficit.
Jones burned a timeout.
“We weren’t communicating very well,” Taylor said. “There were a couple of times we came down court and we didn’t have a matchup. I know we don’t have a great record, but defense is something we take pride in. [But] we’ve been anemic on offense.
“In that moment I was trying to build some confidence in them that offensively we’re doing fine. They know offensively we struggle and defensively, we’ve been pretty good. When they looked up and saw ‘21,’ I was like we’re fine. We’ve just got to get stops on defense.”
The 60-second pause didn’t stop the visitors.
The Panthers seized an 18-point lead at halftime and rode the momentum to a 61-47 victory in The Swamp. East Duplin snapped a four-game skid against the Gators, who tumbled to 4-9 overall and 0-3 against East Central 2-A Conference opposition this season.
Six-foot-three senior Tyrese Artis sparked Spring Creek with a double-double - 24 points, 12 rebounds. Maxx Williams provided 15 points and seven rebounds. Three other Gators - Travis Brown, Josiah Salo-Harris and Kaden Jones - combined for eight points.
Jones said the second quarter “destroyed” his team.
“[East Duplin] switched to zone and we got really stagnant in our offense. Our problem was we could not throw it in the ocean. When all five of your guys are cold, you’re not going to win that game,” said Jones, whose team connected on just three field goals in a 16-minute strech.
“It all comes down to stops and shots. We didn’t make any shots. Defensively, we stepped our defense, especially in the second half. That second quarter, they went on a run, we imploded ourselves, had turnovers, missed shots, didn’t get stops, didn’t communicate.”
Williams tallied Creek’s lone second-quarter basket, a 3-pointer off of an assist from Terius Johnson.
Artis, Brown and Kaden Jones (four rebounds) combined for seven points in the third.
Calvin Alphin pulled down five rebounds in a reserve role.
Junior Jordan Surguy drained three 3-pointers and pumped in a game-high 15 points in Spring Creek’s 51-27 loss to perennial powerhouse East Duplin.
Jamecia Wooten delivered four points, six rebounds and two assists. Point guard Belinda Carson stuffed her statsheet with a basket, eight rebounds, three steals, four assists and two blocked shots. Makiya Hobbs collected four points.
Rachel Duruttya tallied a bucket, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Spring Creek (3-10, 0-3) faced Clinton on Friday.