ROWLAND — For the second consecutive night, South Robeson boys basketball head coach Ryan Bullard was convinced that his team has some maturing to do.
After the Mustangs took an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter against St. Pauls on Thursday night, they gave up an 11-0 run that secured a 47-44 victory for the Bulldogs.
“I told them before I got here, I guarantee you I can teach you how to compete, but you actually have to get out there and learn how to win the game,” Bullard said after the loss. “I can tell you all day what to do and how to do it, but unless you get out there and execute it, it’s not going to help. They’re learning, and you learn by doing.”
It was the second loss in as many night for South Robeson. The Mustangs lost to Lumberton on Wednesday to open the Robeson County Shootout.
A 3-pointer by Jaleel Lesane put the Mustangs up 44-36 with just over three minutes left in the game, but that would be the last score by South Robeson.
Aaron Revels took advantage when Zack Carter dribbled the ball off his own foot, converting on a fast break layup as the game neared its final minute.
Revels made a similar play on the ensuing Bulldog possession, picking up a steal and beating the South Robeson defense down the court to tie the score with a layup.
After the Mustangs failed to respond, Emonta Smith converted on a three-point play that gave St. Pauls the lead. The Mustangs managed to set up a last-second corner jumper on the next possession, but it fell short.
“We do free throws every day in practice,” Smith said. “I had to concentrate like there wasn’t anyone there but me.”
Smith tallied 16 points to lead the St. Pauls. Isaiah McNair added 10 points. Sean McNeil Jr. collected a team-high 11 rebounds.
Lesane led the Mustangs with 11 points.
“We were finally able to win a game (after) trailing,” St. Pauls head coach Corey Thompson said. “Our guys hung in there. I was more proud of the effort than anything else.”
The Bulldogs welcomed the result after losing to Dillon (S.C.) on Wednesday, a shortcoming that motivated the team to prove themselves against the Mustangs.
“I don’t know if it was hunger or just a will to show that they can play together,” Thompson said. “They definitely knew their performance last night wasn’t a great performance, so they wanted to come out and prove a point.”
Fast start helps Lady Bulldogs beat South Robeson
St. Pauls held South Robeson to eight points in the first half and held off a resurgent Lady Mustang offense late in the game to earn a 53-31 victory on Thursday.
The Lady Bulldogs outscored the hosts 14-4 and 16-4 in the first two quarters, respectively, but South Robeson came out of haltime reenergized and outscored St. Pauls 13-11 in the fourth quarter.
“Last night’s game (against Dillon) helped us tonight as far as knowing where we need to be,” St. Pauls head coach Mike Moses said. “They were disappointed last night, so they wanted to come out and prove a point. They really wanted to beat Dillon last night, so they came back out here tonight to really prove a point.”
T.J. Eichelberger posted 14 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs. Jivee Nettles had 11 points, and Shaquan Anderson added 12 rebounds.
Nytia Lewis registered eight points and 13 rebounds for South Robeson. Tellia Page contributed eight points as well.
Moses said that playing in South Robeson’s gym made a difference after being at UNCP’s English Jones Center the night before.
“On a high school level, when you move high school kids onto a college court, that’s a little different,” Moses said. “The floor seems bigger, everything is just different for them. I think tonight they were more comfortable being back in a high school environment. They played better. We were able to make shots.”
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-416-5165. Follow him on Twitter @Tester_Brandon.