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Council-less Spartans advance

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CLAYTON — With both teams needing a win to extend the season, the Smithfield-Selma varsity boys basketball team slid by Cleveland High, 65-49 in the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference tournament Feb. 19 at Clayton High without leading scorer Anthony Council.

Council, averaging nearly 26 points per game, was sidelined with a ankle injury he sustained last Friday night against East Wake that kept him out of the second half of that game. Cleveland head coach Jeff Davis said he felt like his team heard Council was out and didn’t take the Spartans seriously.

“We didn’t play well in the first half and we had a horrific practice yesterday and we just weren’t ready to play,” Davis said. “We just didn’t play as hard as we could, and you can’t turn it on and off.”

Despite the 28-22 halftime lead, Davis said he told his team that they were lucky to be up. He was right as the Spartans’ offense got going behind junior guard Elijah Weir’s 13 second half points.

“In the second half they told me to clam my attitude down and just play my game,” Weir said. “They told me I had the key to the game because I’m the point guard so I had a big role to step up.”

The Spartans took a 42-42 tie into the fourth quarter after Raekwon Barnes and Madrik Sanders both banked in 3-pointers in the final minute of the third quarter.

“Knowing (Council) was hurt and nursing his ankle, somebody had to step up but that’s what a family does,” Smithfield-Selma head coach Matt Cuddington.

In the fourth quarter, SSS bought it home with a staunch defensive effort that held Cleveland to seven points.

“Strap up, period,” Cuddington said. “Win your individual battles. That’s between you and who you’re checking, if you can’t win your individual battle that’s a problem.”

Senior Deron George was the high Spartan with 19 points. Hamilton Harrison had a game-high 24 points for the Rams.

CLEVELAND (49)

Harrison 24, Matthews 10, Smith 7, Wiggins 4, Williams 2, Ruffin 2.

SMITHFIELD-SELMA (65)

George 19, Lassiter 5, Weir 18, Howard 4, Sanders 8, Faulk 2, Barnes 9.

Score by quarters:

Cleveland 16 12 14 7 — 49

Smithfield-Selma 10 12 20 23 — 65

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