FUQUAY-VARINA – Solid guard play and outstanding defense helped the Holly Springs varsity boys’ basketball team overcome Fuquay-Varina Friday night in a Tri-Nine Conference game.
The Hawks (4-3 Tri-Nine, 7-6 overall) outscored the Bengals (1-9, 1-12) 33-16 combined in the second and third quarters to pull away for the 60-45 league victory over their neighboring rival.
Fuquay was able to stay with Holly Springs in the first quarter. The Hawks scored the first five points, but the Bengals responded behind five points from Jake Hartzell and a pair of buckets by Michael Verian to tie it at 10-all at the end of the quarter.
“We are playing the speed we want to play,” said Bengals’ coach Randy Barrow. “We want to have about 30 possessions per half, and we had 31 in the first half tonight and 39 in the second half. We just have to be more efficient.”
Fuquay took its only lead, 12-10, on two free throws by guard D.J. Burt, who finished with 12 points. But Holly Springs went on an 11-2 run keyed by guards Craig McDaniel and Anthanee Doyle to go up 21-14. Jake Slater’s bucket cut the deficit to five (21-16), but a three-pointer by Jonathan Wooten and a three-point play by Deojunique Flippin gave the Hawks a 27-17 advantage at halftime.
“We sometimes have a habit of looking at a team’s record and playing down to the level of competition,” said Holly Springs coach Thurman Jordan. “We have talked about coming out and playing hard every game, no matter who we are playing against.
“We had to make some shots to be able to set up our press. The defense helped us get a little cushion, and that helped our offense.”
Doyle continued his hot hand in the third quarter, swishing a pair of 3-pointers, while McDaniel added a basket and two free throws, as the Hawks began to pull away. The visitors’ lead grew to as many as 20 points twice before a 3-pointer by Brandon Mendez cut the deficit to 43-26.
“I don’t think their penetration hurt us as much as the second chances we gave them by not boxing out in the first half,” Barrow said. “Holly Springs moved the ball well in the second half, and we didn’t make many shots.”
Burt’s 3-pointer with five minutes left cut the Hawks’ lead to 45-30, but that was as close as the Bengals could get. Holly Springs scored nine straight points to extend the margin to 54-30 before a 3-pointer by Mendez ended the flurry. The Bengals finished solid, however, outscoring the Hawks 12-6 (seven points by Burt).
Doyle led Holly Springs with 17 points, while McDaniel added 13 and Flippin provided nine.
Burt’s 12 led Fuquay-Varina, and Mendez chipped in nine. Verian and Slater added six points each.