Swett’s Juwan Jones had other plans.
The senior guard provided a swipe-and-score and two free throws down the stretch to help lift the Rams to a 48-46 non-conference victory over the Red Devils Wednesday night at Purnell Swett High School.
For Jones, he had one thought on his mind as Swett stood on the brink of an upset. The Rams (10-4, 1-1) were 2-0 against the Red Devils (1-12, 1-1) heading into Wednesday’s clash.
“Win,” said Jones, who finished with a team-high 13 points.”That’s the only thing I was thinking about.”
That mentality led to Jones stripping Red Springs’ Quinn Lowery as he dribbled across half court and speeding in an uncontested layup to give Swett a 45-44 edge with 1:07 left.
Needless to say, that crucial possession didn’t pan out the way Red Springs coach Glenn Patterson had hoped.
“My guards got out of position,” Patterson said. “As I told my kids, you got to know your personnel. We know that we should not have given that ball to Quinn that far away from the basket.
“That was a big steal by Juwan.”
Jameson Baker provided a big play of his own, answering with a layup to give the Red Devils back the lead.
But it was short-lived.
Jones drew a foul on the ensuing possession and drained the tying and go-ahead free throws with 26.2 seconds left. Ten seconds later, teammate Jamarkus Harrington added a free throw for the 48-46 final.
Red Springs got a good look in the waning seconds but Baker’s 3-point attempt at the horn clanked off the rim. Baker had a team-high 13 while Lowery added 12.
“We gutted it out near the end,” Swett coach Jeremy Sampson said. “Defense ultimately did it. Juwan got that steal at half court — that was a big steal there.”
In the first half, it was the Red Devils who had the Rams on their heels.
Julian Brown anchored a 7-0 Red Springs run in the second quarter on a 3-pointer and a slashing layup — off a nifty needle-threading bounce pass from Jaqwan McLaurin — to make for what proved to be the game’s widest margin, 21-13.
Swett’s first-half woes came to a climax when Mitchell Hill’s uncontested dunk attempt, which would’ve given the Rams a lead, popped off the back iron with 37.2 left in the half. Tyron McClean’s steal and layup in the final seconds gave Red Springs a 27-24 edge at intermission.
“I jumped on them at the half about heart,” Sampson said. “I told the guys, play hard, have fun. It’s a non-conference game, a county rival. Play hard.
“It took a while, but we’ll take it.”
James Chavis set the pace for the Rams in the second half, scoring seven of his 12 points in the third, including a 3-point bomb from some 2o feet out that gave Swett its first lead — 29-27 —since early in the first.
“Me, Juwan, Jamarkus and the starting five brought us back together,” Chavis said. “That’s a sloppy win, but it was a good win as a team.”
Added Jones: “(Coach Sampson) said go out there and play hard (in the second half) and that’s what we did. We had to pick up the intensity. In the first quarter … no intensity at all.”
Still, Red Springs remained in front after three quarters as Baker ripped a 3 to put his team ahead 36-35 heading into the final frame.
“If we would’ve taken care of the basketball a little better than we would’ve had a chance,” Patterson said. “We had 32 turnovers and we were still in the ballgame.”
The two teams traded scoring jabs in the fourth until Jones provided the pivotal steal and layup.
“Our offense starts with our defense,” Jones said, “and if we ain’t got our defense going then our offense ain’t going to get going.”
Swett girls drop Red Devils
Kayla Lewis scored a team-high 13 points, leading the Purnell Swett girls to a 49-38 non-conference win over Red Springs.
The Rams (9-5), who led 27-15 at halftime, pushed their lead to 20 points in the third quarter before the Red Devils (6-8) chipped away at the lead in the fourth.
Laura Bird added a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double for Swett.
Red Springs was led by D’Niqua Murphy who had 15 points. Robyn McPhaul added seven.
Reach Sports editor Kaleb Roedel at 910-272-6111 or email@example.com