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Eagles swept by hot shooting Henderson Kerr-Vance

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Rocky Mount Academy's Thorne Pruden, left, attempts a shot as Henderson Kerr-Vance Academy's Beau Nutter defends Tuesday at Rocky Mount Academy.

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By SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Winners of three games in a row coming into Tuesday night, Rocky Mount Academy entered its home game against Henderson Kerr-Vance playing its best basketball of the season.

The problem: so was the opponent.

HKV, which improved to 15-0 and 7-0 in the conference on Tuesday with the win, blitzed the Eagles early and often with its speed for a sizable 30-5 lead after the first quarter, cruising for the rest of the game to beat RMA, 81-54.

The Eagles actually kept pace with the Spartans for the final three quarters for a more narrow 51-49 deficit, but by then, the damage had been done.

“I’ve got a couple of quick guys, I want to utilize them. No use of having a quick guard if you can’t put them out there and use them to your advantage,” HKV coach Taron Downey said. “Basketball is headed that way -- we just wanted to get up and down and run a little bit.”

The first basket of the game -- a breakaway dunk by Spartans guard Andreas Wilson -- supported that. Wilson had 12 in that first quarter alone and finished with 23 for the game. Thomas Miles added 20.

“That’s a good team, congrats to them, but we didn’t go out with the heart and determination that we had last week,” RMA guard Jay Crandell said. “We could play with them, they’re a good team, but they’re not 25 points (in the first quarter) better than us.”

It’s been a streaky season for coach M. Scott Dunn and his Eagles (4-6, 3-2). To start, they’ve been playing without normal starter Isaiah Thomas, who is out for the year with an achilles injury.

But a slow start was erased with the recent success, including a 35-point win over rival Faith Christian last Thursday.

“We played some of the best ball we’ve played all season. I was really proud of the way we played last week, we just have to keep building on that,” Dunn said. “We played like a team. Everyone hustled and shared the ball. We moved it well, the spacing was good last week. We played with a greater intensity, that’s what led us to the wins. It was unselfish basketball.”

As for Tuesday, said Dunn, the loss was likely a combination of a tough opponent and getting away from what worked over the recent win streak, especially to begin the game.

For the Eagles, Trey Smelcer scored nine points. Peyton David added 11, including nine in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to be mentally stronger. To be able to move on from one play to the next. If we can be more disciplined on offense good things will happen,” said Dunn, noting that both Smelcer and Crandell have stepped up for the Eagles this season. “We’re moving in the right direction, just had a set back tonight.”

Girls: Henderson Kerr-Vance 69, Rocky Mount Academy 25

The Rocky Mount Academy girls’ team (2-10) scored the first basket of the game, but relented 21 points in the first quarter to Henderson Kerr-Vance while scoring only five more points for the period, setting the tone for an eventual 69-25 loss at home on Tuesday.

The Eagles were led by eight from senior Madison Glover, while Ashley Wright added two baskets.

Overall, RMA is young and without a lot of depth -- the roster has seven players, two of which are seniors.

Glover is one of them, and Lillie Daughtridge is the other, two players coach Katherine Johnston relies on.

“Madison’s my outside shooter, my senior. When she gots hot she can throw up points for us, and she’s provided senior leadership,” Johnston said. “My court leader is Lillie. She plays from whistle to whistle, gives it everything she has. She’s my emo leader, my hustle leader.”

A problem for the Eagles this season has been size: In a lot of games, Johnston said, the opposing front court, and even backcourt, has just had RMA outclassed, much like on Tuesday.

Both of the team’s wins have come against better matchups, and with that, better defense.

“We absolutely stepped it up on on our defense,” said the coach. “ All of the intensity and production comes off of our defense, that’s been the difference when we’ve played well.

“Every game, I just tell the girls not to look at the scoreboard, Just get better for the next game and next season. We’ll have all these girls back next year, so it’s something to build on.”

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