DUDLEY - A fiery halftime speech momentarily stoked a flame against a county rival Tuesday evening.
The well-lit embers soon fizzled to ash.
Southern Wayne’s defense couldn’t contain Eastern Wayne in either transition or half-court play, and endured a 49-31 loss in Eastern Carolina 3A-4A Conference play.
“I just challenged them,” said Southern Wayne head coach Dwight Smith. “For the first two or three minutes, they came out and played hard. Then, they went back to what we were doing the first half and that was not playing defense. We can’t continue to play the way we’re playing defensively.
“Our defense causes our offense.”
The Warriors (1-1 overall, 1-1 ECC) scored nine of the game’s first 14 points, which forced Smith to burn a timeout. His voice echoed in the cavernous gym as he stressed getting back in transition.
The Saints’ offense needed a spark, too.
They converted just five field goals during a 9 1/2-minute stretch that lasted past the midway point of the third quarter. By then, Eastern Wayne owned a comfortable 17-point lead.
Ball-handling miscues and an inability to consistently score at the rim also haunted the Saints, who fell to 0-2 overall. Southern Wayne attempted just five free throws compared to 15 for EW.
Smith attributed it to youth, but also said the players must treat practice like a live game and learn to finish the play.
Zay Hardy emerged as the Warriors’ top scorer with 14 points.
Ian McIntyre knocked down eight for the Saints, who were held to single-digit scoring in each quarter. Tyrek Faison added five points. Teammates Chris Carmon, Jabri Pearsall and Angelo Maddox posted four points apiece.
“We’re going to run defense drills all day tomorrow,” Smith said. “They’re going to be tired. We talked about how we allowed the cuts [on defense]. We’ve got to make adjustments.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: More photos from Tuesday's game can be found on the Mount Olive Tribune Facebook page.