ST. PAULS — As he paces up and down the sideline, St. Pauls girls basketball coach Mike Moses Jr. tries to not let the frustrations of coaching a young team get to him.
“We’re not the same St. Pauls team, no matter how upset I get,” Moses said on Tuesday night.
“I see it a different way, but we’re not the same 3-20 team from last year. We’re going to fight. The girls are going to compete and give a better effort. … we’re just learning and getting better. I’m building for the future.”
The Lady Bulldogs took another step forward as a program on Tuesday in a 43-40 comeback win over West Bladen to improve to 4-3 in Three Rivers Conference play.
But their sixth win of the season didn’t come without its share of adversity. St. Pauls (6-7, 4-3 TRC) was down 8-0 after the first quarter but bounced back with a 19-point flurry in second period to carry a one-point lead into the break.
TJ Eichelberger scored 12 of her game-high 13 points in the second quarter to lead the Lady Bulldogs, who used a 14-6 third quarter to widen the margin.
“We turned it around because TJ got more shots up,” Moses said. “When TJ shoots the ball, she makes Shaquan (Anderson) and Diamond (Simms-Moore) better players because what they do is offensive rebound. Then we have a chance.
“Once they calmed down and saw it was just hectic defense. … I was just praying for one basket so maybe we could get it going. TJ got an and-one and then we kind of got going after that.”
Anderson added 11 points for St. Pauls, which led by as many as 13 points in the second half en route to snapping a four-game losing streak against West Bladen.
Conner Brisson scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter for the Lady Knights (2-9, 0-6), who rallied late but got no closer than three points in the final minute.
Bulldogs use balanced attack to down Knights
Breaking in their refurbished court to begin the new year, the St. Pauls boys basketball team used a balanced scoring effort to earn a 65-50 win over West Bladen on Tuesday.
Keonte Taylor scored 14 points to lead four Bulldogs (7-6, 5-2 TRC) in double figures. Sean McNeil Jr. tallied 12 points, with Emonta Smith and Aaron Revels adding 10 points each for the hosts.
“I thought everybody contributed, brought us something,” said St. Pauls coach Corey Thompson.
“We played every last single one of our guys. Once we able to withstand their initial wave, I thought we were able to execute at the end. (West Bladen) played three games before us and this was our first game (since the Shootout), so I knew it was going to be rusty.”
After a back-and-forth first half that saw the teams knotted at 31-all going into the break, the Bulldogs used a 16-8 third quarter to take command.
The Knights (3-9, 0-5) made the first basket of the second half to take a 34-31 lead but St. Pauls responded with a 15-2 run to take a 10-point advantage.
Revels scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs take their biggest lead of the night, 55-39, before the Knights attempted one final rally.
West Bladen scored 11 of the next 13 points to trim the lead to 57-50 but St. Pauls shut the door with an 8-0 run for the final tally.
Tyre Boykin scored 10 points to lead West Bladen.
Because of renovations to the court, it was the first home game for St. Pauls in nearly a month.
“The court is beautiful,” Thompson said. “Our administration did a great job. We just want to come and do our part as a basketball team and represent it in the right way. Wins or losses, we just want to go out and play hard, and give it our best.”
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.