LUMBERTON — The goal was to finish the week at 3-3 for the Lumberton boys basketball team, and the first step in that was to avenge an overtime loss to Red Springs.
At home on Tuesday night, the Pirates did just that behind a balanced scoring effort to top the Red Devils, 64-53, led by its backcourt play.
Lumberton (2-3) rode the scoring and all-around play of sophomore Jordan McNeill and senior Steph Lloyd to bounce back from a slow start to upend Red Springs (1-1). McNeill led all scorers with 24 points and scored 10 of those points in the second quarter as the Pirates took a 17-12 deficit after the first quarter to a 35-28 halftime lead.
After the slow start that was a direct cause of the pressure defense from Red Springs, the Pirates settled in.
“We are used to it. Fairmont does us like that. We’ve got to get used to it more and more. We get nervous in the first two minutes and then we get in it,” McNeill said. “I just took it to the hole and let the refs call something. … We are trying to be 3-3 when this week is over with.”
McNeill added seven rebounds and four blocks as well. Lloyd nearly missed getting a triple-double with his 11-point, eight-rebound and nine-assist performance.
In the final period, Lloyd and McNeill combined for 12 of the 15 points for Lumberton to hold off the Red Devils and keep its lead above seven points in the fourth.
“In the last three losses, the second quarter was our Achilles, and I think we played a full game tonight,” Lumberton coach Matt Hill said. “Steph was a few stats away from having a triple-double and Jordan is just tough.”
The second quarter was the tipping point in the game for Red Springs, according to coach Glenn Patterson as his team went away from what it did in the first quarter to build a 10-point lead midway through the opening period.
“I thought in the second quarter we missed some easy layups and took some bad shots that allowed them to get into the ballgame,” he said.
Red Springs’ offense took a hit with senior point guard Monte’ Wilkerson saddled with foul trouble for much of the game, leaving shooting guard Caleel Mitchell to take over the ball-handling duties and pull himself off the wing where he did most of his damage in the game with his 3-point shooting.
After totaling 42 combined points in the first meeting of the teams, Mitchell and Wilkerson were held to 11 and eight points, respectively. Wilkerson helped the Red Devils out of halftime cut into the lead and trim the lead to 41-38 on a runner in the paint with 2:42 left in the third quarter, but he picked up his fourth foul on the next possession. When Wilkerson exited the game, the Pirates took advantage with a run to take a nine-point lead into the fourth.
“It hurt us early on because we had to pull Caleel to the point and put Jaylen Mack in there at the point and it is just not Monte’,” Patterson said. “Our offense didn’t flow the way we wanted.”
While the guard play led the Pirates, both teams’ frontcourt produced solid outings. Red Springs’ Eriq McBryde had 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Kwashek Breeden had 13 points and 12 boards for Lumberton. To go along with Breeden’s double-double, Braylan Grice had 13 points and nine rebounds.
“Everybody talks about Caleel and Monte’, and they are great players, but Eriq and their role players bring it. You don’t just get it from one or two guys, you get punched in the face by five guys on the floor and I like how scrappy they are,” Hill said. “Our guys came out and they were scrappy too.”
Lumberton tries to even its record up hosting South View tonight, and Red Springs opens Three Rivers Conference play at South Columbus on Friday.
Lady Pirates hold off Red Springs late
In the girls game, Lumberton held off a third-quarter surge from Red Springs and Taya Jones to secure a 51-37 win at home.
Lumberton (4-1) opened the game strong on both sides of the ball, taking a 18-2 lead as Red Springs (0-2) went over eight minutes between the first and second quarters without scoring, and took over 12 minutes into the game to hit a shot from the floor.
“I thought we were pretty good on defense, but sporadic on offense,” Lumberton coach Danny Graham said. “We’ve got a lot of young players we are still trying to incorporate and still haven’t got onto it yet. I thought it was a good team effort.”
Despite the slow start, the Lady Red Devils cut down the lead to 25-12 heading into halftime. In the third quarter, Jones scored eight points to fuel a flurry that cut the Lady Pirates lead to 29-25 with 3:30 left in the quarter. But then Lumberton had its answer behind scores from London Thompson and Madison Canady to go up seven points going to the fourth quarter.
“I thought when we needed a basket, we got one,” Graham said. “We showed heart there to get that.”
Jones had a game-high 21 points and nine rebounds to go along with 14 points and eight rebounds from teammate Taylynn Atkinson. Lumberton was led by Canady with 14 points and nine rebounds and Rachel O’Neil with nine points.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.