PEMBROKE — For St. Pauls guard Aaron Revels, the Bulldogs’ 59-47 loss to Dillon (S.C.) on Wednesday night came down to a lack of energy.
“We didn’t work hard,” Revels said after finishing with a team-high 15 points. “We didn’t have enough effort.”
Revels connected on two consecutive 3-pointers to close Dillon’s lead to 53-44 with three minutes left in the game, but it wasn’t enough to rally the Bulldogs (5-5, 4-2) on the opening night of the Robeson County Shootout at the English E. Jones Center in Pembroke.
“We came out flat, and that’s kind of how we’ve been this whole season,” St. Pauls head coach Corey Thompson said. “Inconsistent play. Either we come out with a good start, and then in the third or fourth quarter we’ll mellow out. Or, we’ll start out flat and in the third or fourth quarter we’ll try to miraculously pull it off.”
After falling behind 23-16 in the second quarter, St. Pauls used a 7-3 run to pull within three points of the Wildcats. Emonta Smith, who finished with nine points for the Bulldogs, capped the rally with a 3-pointer.
Dillon didn’t let the Bulldogs gain any more momentum going into halftime, as Zy’Aire Charles drove in for a layup to give the Wildcats a 30-23 lead at the break.
The second half began with a scuffle, as St Pauls’ Romeo Jordan and Dillon’ Darius Boatwright got in a tussle. Both players were removed from the game.
The Bulldogs were able to make a dent in the deficit despite the interruption, outscoring the Wildcats 13-12 in the third quarter.
“I learned a lot about my team tonight,” Thompson said. “Not from a basketball standpoint, but who wants it more. Sometimes, as coaches, we get caught up in the skill set and everything. It’s all about toughness and heart. Coach once told me basketball is about skill and toughness, and I’ll take more toughness than skill sometimes.”
Damari Ladson tallied 20 points to lead the Wildcats Ty’Quan Porter added 13 points, and Zy’Aire Charles contributed 11.
“We need to get our bench more into the game,” Revels said. “We need to focus on coming into the game working hard, putting in more hard work and effort as a team.”
“I hate to say it because I’d like to think I’m a defensive coach, but our defense has to get better,” Thompson said. “Defensively, we’re not where we’re supposed to be. We watch film and do everything we’re supposed to do, and for some apparent reason we’re not getting it figured out on the defensive end.”
Slow second half costly for Lady Bulldogs
Mike Moses knows his team doesn’t do well playing from behind, so he sensed that it would be an uphill battle when the St. Pauls girls basketball team was outscored by Dillon 9-2 in the third quarter on Wednesday night.
That run increased a two-point halftime deficit to nine for the Lady Bulldogs, as they ultimately fell to the Wildcats 32-27.
“We started off slow in the second half,” Moses said. “That’s when they took a little lead on us and it was hard to come back. The first four minutes of the second half killed us. Other than that, I think we played a really good game. We’re not a come from behind team.”
T.J. Eichelberger led St. Pauls (5-5, 3-3) with 13 points.
Ja’Ronda McCrimmon posted 10 points and Jykya Bell had seven for the Wildcats (3-3).
“I think we had a stretch where the girls kind of got down on themselves in the second half,” Moses said. “In those four minutes, they got down on themselves. If we do a better job of staying positive and fighting through it, we’ll be fine. That’s the biggest thing for us.”
It was the third consecutive loss for the Lady Bulldogs.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-416-5165. Follow him on Twitter @Tester_Brandon.