Bulldogs, Gryphons back in action after weather woes


Nash Central's Chris High, left, drives by Northern Nash's Undray Cherry on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 during the Nash County Christmas Tournament at Northern Nash High School.


Sports Writer

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

As it turns out, only the weather could slow down the Rocky Mount and Nash Central boys’ basketball teams.

The Gryphons (9-2), who were playing some of their best basketball of the season before the snow and ice came, haven’t played since 2017 -- or, in a less dramatic-sounding metric, 12 days.

And in that game, on Dec. 29 in the title game of the Cleveland Christmas Tournament, they squared off against tonight’s opponent, Nash Central. It was a 72-66 overtime win for the Bulldogs, which held off Rocky Mount in the extra five-minute period after the Gryphons missed a shot at the regulation buzzer.

Though on a similarly long break, Nash Central has played one game since then: a five-point win over SouthWest Edgecombe on Jan. 2.

The loss for RMHS was just its second, having won seven in a row before that loss, including an overtime thriller against Northern Nash to win the Nash County Christmas Tournament.

But since that last meeting a few days before the new year, there’s been cancelled games, forgone practices, slippery roads and unusually cold temperatures, resulting in, as Gryphons coach Michael Gainey put it, a whole lot of nothing.

“Been sitting on the couch,” said Gainey, laughing. “That’s about it. I hope the kids had opportunities to do something, but with the ice and stuff on the road, as cold as it was, I don’t know if they did.”

RMHS practiced on Jan. 2, then not again until Tuesday in preparation for today’s matchup with the Bulldogs, a final non-conference tuneup for both schools before the conference schedule begins this Friday.

“To deal with snow, with the common cold, it’s always something — something throwing a monkey wrench in your plans,” Gainey said. “The kids are ready to go, back rolling. We’re hoping we can get back to the level before we left for break.”

The Bulldogs (9-5), who have a six-game winning streak after a 3-5 start, are in nearly an identical situation, besides that win on Jan. 2. They practiced the day before, on New Year’s day, but not again until Tuesday afternoon.

And, as coach Renny Taylor mused after his practice on Tuesday night, the Bulldogs indeed looked like a team that had taken a week off.

“Let me tell you, it shows. I don’t know if we made a jumper in the two hour practice (Tuesday),” Taylor said. “I would text the guys, say get to gym, take some jumpshots. I don’t think they listened.”

When Nash County schools close down, there’s not much choice but to follow the rules, the coach pointed out. Taylor would be relieved to know no one on the Gryphons’ side was trying to sneak in some extra court time.

“You hope everybody is in the same position,” Taylor said. “You hope you’re playing somebody in the same predicament. Makes it a little bit more easier when no one has their A game.”

Third time’s the charm

Rocky Mount will open its Big East schedule on Friday with a home game against Wilson Fike, while Nash Central starts its Eastern Plains schedule by hosting Wilson Beddingfield.

But first, a third matchup of the season for these two in-town teams.

“We all know what we do at this point (against Rocky Mount). The coaches do, what happens is, now the players are starting to figure it out, especially the seniors,” Taylor said. “We played four times last year, if you're a senior on one of those teams, this will be seventh time. You know the plays, you know the players. It's tough, let me tell you.”