The senior forward wasn’t going to let Thursday night fall into the latter category.
Led by Lowery’s late-game managing, the Red Devils held off winless South Robeson, 50-40, at home in a Three Rivers Conference showdown at Red Springs High.
“I keep challenging him to be a leader and I think he’s stepping it up for us,” Red Springs coach Glenn Patterson said of Lowery, a three-year starter under Patterson's watch. “He was my power forward on that regional finals team as a sophomore. He went from a team that made it one game from a state championship to last year’s team that won only four ballgames.”
And prior to Thursday’s win, Lowery and Red Springs (4-12, 1-3) were on a three-game losing skid and searching for their first conference win. South Robeson remains winless at 0-15 overall and 0-4 in the league.
“It’s a big win because we’ve been lacking in confidence ever since we’ve been on that losing streak … we had to get this win,” said Lowery, who scored 10 points. James Baker added 10 as well for the Red Devils.
The Red Devils appeared primed to put the Mustangs away early as it jumped out to a 12-4 first-quarter lead while holding South Robeson without a field goal in the opening eight minutes. Red Springs senior Corey Okonkwo, who chipped in eight points, punctuated the quarter with a tomahawk dunk off a steal at 4:33.
South Robeson’s only sign of life in the first half came on a two-handed breakaway dunk by Reggie Scippio to make for a 21-11 count late in the second quarter. Red Springs led 21-13 at halftime.
The Mustangs, however, retooled and came out with a more aggressive offensive gameplan in the third. Anthony Galbreath set the tone with three straight free throws after being hacked on a 3-point attempt in the opening minute. The Mustangs continued to chip away, bringing it to a five-point game at 2:39 on an acrobatic scoop by De’Marui Rowdy.
Harrison Branch led the Mustangs with a team-high 10 points.
“I thought they outplayed us in the second half on both ends. They got a lot of second and third opportunities at the basket,” Patterson said. “I’ll take this win. We’ve been longing for one — a conference win — so it was a big one for us tonight. I told them to take care of home court advantage.”
And Patterson knew who he could count on to help the Red Devils oblige.
“The coaches and I were looking for someone that we knew was smart enough to keep us under control and all the fingers were pointing at Quinn,” Patterson said. “I ask a lot of him and I thought he played an exceptional game tonight keeping us under control and finding the openings and backing out and running our spread offense when we need it.”
The ball was in the senior forward hands for the majority of Red Springs’ possessions in the fourth. Lowery worked defenders down low, orchestrated the offense from the wings and methodically muscled his way to the free throw line.
“Basically I just had to pull my team together and control them,” Lowery said. "And tell them we have to be patient and run the offense and execute like we do in practice.”
Lowery, who scored seven of his 10 points in the final six minutes, capped the Red Devils’ first conference win with a jump-stop reverse layup with 1:50 left.
“He’s a valuable player for us,” Patterson said. “I think tonight’s win is a big part of Quinn keeping us together.”
Lady Mustangs beat Red Springs
The South Robeson girls basketball team remains undefeated in the Three Rivers Conference after a 48-45 win over Red Springs on Thursday night.