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Nash Central boys squeak past RMH; Gryphons girls beat Bulldogs

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Rocky Mount High's Joseph Blue, left, spins around Nash Central's Ta'rod Brown, center, as Nash Central's Isaiah Jones also defends Thursday during the game at Rocky Mount High School.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Friday, January 6, 2017

Renny Taylor calls them his four-minute guys. These are the players that the Nash Central boys’ basketball coach can count on to provide a spark while Taylor rests his starters. And during Thursday’s 3-A Big East Conference game against Rocky Mount High, those four-minute guys made the most of their time.

Sophomores Chris High and Ta’Rod Brown took advantage of their time on the court and helped the Bulldogs pull off a 60-55 win over the host Gryphons.

“They stepped in and got us going,” Taylor said. “I think they prove that we have a deep team with all the things they can do for us.”

Nash Central (9-3, 1-0 Big East) started slow and couldn’t find its halfcourt offense. The problem, however, wasn’t glaring because the Gryphons had the same issue. The teams were tied at 27-27 heading into halftime, and Taylor was looking for an answer. High and Brown proved to be just that.

High scored five points and went 3 of 4 from the foul line, including a free thow in the waning seconds to give the Bulldogs a two-possession lead. Brown, meanwhile, matched a career high with 10 points and played minutes in every quarter. Brown was also one of three players in double figures along with Elijah Cole’s 11 points and Montre Cash’s game-high 19.

“When you just get a few minutes every game you don’t want to mess up,” Brown said. “But once you get on the floor you don’t think about that and you just compete. I think that mentality has helped when it comes to contributing to this team.”

Added High: “We’re young guys trying to make an impact. If coach needs us to provide some energy or defense or whatever, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The score was tied at 42-42 by the end of the third quarter, and the Gryphons (6-6, 0-1) managed to grab a slim lead at 48-47. RMH junior guard Jamar Ellis, who finished with 14 points, scored four in the fourth quarter, while Artavious Richardson played strong defense and delivered a punishing block to keep the lead, but the Gryphons couldn’t find a way to score down the stretch. Joseph Blue had a team-high 16 points but only had two in the final frame. Damian Moore hit a late 3-pointer to cut the Gryphons’ deficit to 58-55, but RMH couldn’t get any closer. Nash Central pushed the pace and found its way to free-throw line where it closed out the game.

“We left a lot of points out there,” Gryphons coach Michael Gainey said. “We missed too many layups. It’s a mental thing. We just need to get the guys all on the same page and we’ll be fine.”

Rocky Mount High 61

Nash Central 52

Michelle Gainey and Keyanna Spivey had an inside-out attack that led the Rocky Mount High girls basketball team to a 3-A Big East Conference win over a Nash Central team that ran out of scoring threats.

Spivey required constant attention from the Bulldogs under the basket, and even a cluster of bodies couldn’t slow the senior who poured in a game-high 24 points, continuing a season-long streak of scoring in double figures in each game. Gainey was the other threat, knocking down mid-range jumpers and driving the basket to the tune of 14 points.

“I can just do this look,” Gainey said, “and Keyanna will know what to do. We’ve been playing together a long time so we know how to create some shots.”

Nash Central (6-6, 1-1 Big East) looked to have RMH figured out early. Michaela Nelms had 15 points before halftime and scored from just about everywhere on the court. She opened the game with a 3-pointer, then added a steal and a layup soon after. She could only be slowed by foul trouble, and that’s what shut down the Bulldogs. Nelms picked up her fourth foul with 2:47 left in the third quarter, then fouled out 14 seconds later with 20 points when she was called for charging. Nash Central trailed 41-39 at that point, and without Nelms, the deficit only grew larger.

The Gryphons (8-2, 1-0) pulled away and led by as many as 15 before the Bulldogs got the score under control. Sophomore Kayalin Mitchell was the reason, scoring 15 of her 18 points in the second half.

“Mitchell really stepped up for us,” Nash Central coach Terri Cash said. “That’s a lot to put on a sophomore’s shoulders, and she handled that situation really well. She was essential to keeping us in this game.”

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