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AREA ROUNDUP: North Johnston girls win sixth straight

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Boys Basketball

Panthers dropped by Warriors

LOUISBURG — The North Johnston High varsity boys basketball team couldn’t recover from a slow first-half start on the road against Louisburg, falling 71-61 on Wednesday.

The Panthers (5-4) of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference saw Warriors sophomore Elijah Johnson, the state’s third-leading scorer per MaxPreps statistics, get 30 points on 9-of-21 shooting — two points below his average and 7 percent below his field-goal percentage. But the 1-A Warriors (7-3) of the 1-A/2-A Northern Carolina Conference got a big scoring boost from senior Nolan Brown and sophomore Ethan Wood, both with season highs in points with 19 and 14, respectively.

Louisburg jumped out to an early 20-9 lead in the first quarter. By halftime, the lead ballooned to 15. The Panthers made a charge in the third to cut it to 53-44 heading into the fourth, but once there, the Warriors matched them basket for basket to hold on to the win.

Junior Carsse Lucas had a season-high 21 points, while seniors Savon Foye and Dylann Hinnant added 15 and 11, respectively, for North Johnston. 

North Johnston gave up 70 points for the first time since its Dec. 7 loss to Princeton, 87-68. The Panthers were 5-1 since then, allowing only 40.7 points per game during that stretch before Wednesday's game.

On Friday, North Johnston will head to Four Oaks to face South Johnston. The 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference Trojans (9-1) handed the Panthers a 55-40 loss in Kenly on Dec. 20. 

North Johnston (61)

Lucas 21, Foye 15, Hinnant 11, York 5, Rodrigues 3, Vann 2, Pitts 2, Hicks 2.

Louisburg (71)

Jamison 30, Brown 19,  Wood 14, Alston 5, Gerald 2, Carter 1, Bullock.

Score by quarters:

North Johnston 9 17 18 17 — 61

Louisburg 20 21 12 18 — 71


Spartans drop fourth straight

SMITHFIELD — The Smithfield-Selma varsity boys basketball team couldn’t overcome its defensive breakdowns in the third quarter at home Wednesday night against Apex Friendship to lose its fourth straight, 73-59.

The 4-A Southwest Wake Athletic Conference Patriots (9-3) scored 33 in the third quarter to add to their 31-25 halftime lead. Friendship, the No. 24 4-A team in the MaxPreps rankings, lost the fourth quarter 20-9, but held on to win.

Smithfield-Selma’s Anthony Council, had 24 points and seven assists — roughly five points under his average. Junior Sha’kerr Howard had his third-highest scoring night of the season with 16 points to go along with five rebounds, five blocks and three assists. Junior Raekwon Barnes added in a season-high six points and team-leading seven rebounds, including a team-high three steals. 

The 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference Spartans (4-7) have lost four straight since Dec. 14 after winning four of their last five from Dec. 4 to Dec. 13. The big difference in the stretches has been the defense. During the stretch of 4-1 basketball, the Spartans allowed just 58.4 points per game versus 72.5 during the losing streak. In Smithfield-Selma’s seven losses, it’s giving up 70.9 points per game while giving up just 55.25 in its wins. After their Dec. 6 victory over Beddingfield, Spartans head coach Matt Cuddington said his team was “nothing” without defense.

The Spartans will need to get back to playing great defense if they’re going to get back on track against Harnett Central on Friday night. 

Apex friendship (73)

No scorers available.

Smithfield-selma (59)

Council 24, Howard 16,  Barnes 6, Weir 5, George 2, Tyson 2, Hicks 2, Sanders 2, Faulk.

Score by quarters:

Apex Friendship 17 14 33 9 — 73

Smithfield-Selma   13      12     14    20    — 59


Girls Basketball

Lady Panthers chew out Lady Warriors for sixth straight

LOUISBURG — Defense helped the North Johnston High varsity girls basketball team defeat Louisburg on the road Wednesday night to win its sixth straight game, 43-28.

The duo of senior Jordyn Scott and sophomore Arial Pearce paced the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference Lady Panthers (7-2) with 10 and 16 points, respectively. North Johnston head coach Jay Poole lauded Pearce for her performance, as she also pulled down five rebounds and three steals.

Pearce’s three steals were a part of 13 for North Johnston — led by freshman Nikiya Blue’s five. The Lady Panthers defense has stifled opponents to 29.7 points per game during their six-game win streak. 

Poole said Louisburg’s (3-7) senior guards Taylor Ferguson and Kaylee Saunders’ hot shooting helped keep the Lady Warriors in the game, but said his team responded with shots from Pearce and senior Lindsey Massengill to keep the Lady Panthers ahead. Massengill finished with five points and nine rebounds.


north johnston (43)

Pearce 16, Scott 10,  Massengill 5, Blue 4, Narron 4, Hines 2, Gachuz 2.

louisburg (28)

Ferguson 13, Saunders 8, Epps 2, Leornard 2, Fields 2, Smith 1.

Score by quarters:

North Johnston 11  10  14  8 — 43

Louisburg 6  8  7  7 — 28


Offensive woes hurt Lady Spartans, drop second straight

SMITHFIELD — The Smithfield-Selma High varsity girls basketball team dropped its second straight against Apex Friendship after scoring a season-low 10 points in the first half at home, 45-23.

The offense for the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference Lady Spartans (4-7) didn’t find a rhythm until the fourth quarter as they scored 11 after mustering only 12 in the first three quarters. 

The strategy for SSS this year has been to keep the score low and find a way to score enough to win, as the Lady Spartans haven’t scored over 50 points in a game this year. They haven’t won a game this year when the opponent scores more than 43. SSS is allowing 58.6 points per game in losses versus 34.75 in wins. 

Smithfield-Selma will welcome Harnett Central (5-1), which is averaging 50.8 points per game this season, on Friday.

Score by quarters:

Apex Friendship 14  13  11  7 — 45

Louisburg 7  3  2 11 — 23