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SMITHFIELD — In the span of a week, the Smithfield-Selma High varsity boys basketball team has played the top three teams in the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference and come out winless.
After Tuesday’s 50-44 loss to East Wake, Spartans head coach Matt Cuddington said he still feels like his team can compete for that top spot in the Greater Neuse.
“We’ve competed and gone down to the wire with two of those three,” Cuddington said. “We can play with anybody on any given night, it’s just a lot of things have to be going right for us to be successful when the horn goes off tonight.”
The Spartans (7-11, 2-3 GNRC), who lost 52-48 at Clayton last Friday, were hurt by poor shooting and a second-quarter run by the Warriors (13-4, 5-0). After a high energy 10-10 first quarter, SSS managed to keep the score tied at 17 with two minutes left in the half. But East Wake scored seven straight to end the half, making the Spartans play catchup for the rest of the game.
“In the second we stunk,” Cuddington said. “We’re playing hard, but we stunk — for lack of a better word. We got beat on the boards and we couldn’t put the ball in the basket. We just couldn’t, we scored seven points. You score seven points in a quarter, you’re going to lose.”
The Spartans shot 37 percent from the field. Cuddington felt good about his team holding the Warriors to 50 points, even though his offense struggled.
“When you shoot that bad, you’re going to lose most games,” Cuddington said. “Plus we were 0-for-11 from behind the 3-line, and for us, we have to hit at least five or six 3s in our style of play and personnel. Our philosophy backfired tonight, because we always say play D and the offensive end will take care of itself — unless you shoot 30-something percent from the field.”
Despite the offenses struggles, SSS was within two points with 1:19 to go in the game. After calling timeout, the Warriors were able to take advantage of the Spartans press and Daveon Vick dropped in an easy layup. Anthony Council would miss on the other end, initiating the foul game for the Spartans.
Council had one of the worst shooting nights of the season as he was 0-for-5 from the 3-point line, but still finished with a game-high 22 points. Zach Sloan was the high man for the Warriors with 14 points.
EAST WAKE (50)
Sloan 14, Crudup 9, Vick 8, Ingram 9, Mercer 10.
Council 22, George 2, Barnes 6, Howard 6, Sanders 2, Lassiter 6.
Score by quarters:
East Wake 10 14 8 18 — 50
Smithfield-Selma 10 7 12 15 — 44