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Trio of Firebird seniors get Southern Nash past Hunt

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By SAMUEL EVERS Sports Writer

Friday, February 2, 2018

WILSON —- Before he attacks the basket, Southern Nash point guard Demetrius Townes likes to look at the defender’s feet. During this particularly juncture on Friday night on the road against Wilson Hunt, he saw a pair of sneakers that weren’t ready.

“The lane was open. I saw the feet going the wrong way,” he recalled. “I saw he wasn’t guarding me right. So I took it. It was a good finish.”

Starting at the top of the key, Townes -- all 5-foot-5 of him -- blew by one Warriors defender and unleashed a soft floater in the paint a split-second before another defender got him on the arm. It was a swish, plus a foul. After the free throw, it gave the Firebirds an 11-point lead with five minutes left, culminating moments later in a 57-41 victory at Wilson Hunt High School.

The victory for Southern Nash (11-7, 4-1 Big East) was its sixth win in seven games after starting the season 5-1, the only loss of the new year to Northern Nash.

“It took us a while to figure out who we are and what we’re doing,” coach Robbie Kennedy said. “It’s huge when everybody’s buying in.”

The Firebirds never trailed against Hunt, pulling ahead early, 7-0, and leading by two points after the first quarter. The lead gradually grew by quarter (five points at halftime, eight after three, and 16 by the end) and was a product of a balanced scoring attack.

With Townes controlling the offense for most of the game, he, Tyler Wilson and Jalen Lucas each had stretches of production. Townes finished with 12 points, Wilson with 10 and Lucas with 19, including seven in the fourth quarter.

“I’m the floor general,” Townes said. “I tell them, ‘Every third quarter I know what time it is.’ I’m driving in looking for them two guys on the wing.”

The plan going into the game, said Kennedy, was to keep the Warriors from getting too many open looks from behind the line. With the zone defense deployed, Hunt managed only two made three-pointers. Kennedy was happy with that part, but of the 41 points they did score, the majority came on put-back offensive rebounds.

“We got close to a 15-20-point lead, then we’d give up offensive rebounds and it would go back to eight or nine,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got to do a much better job for us to continue and do what we want to do, which is compete for a conference championship.”

The litmus test so far in the Firebirds’ hope for a conference championship was the loss earlier this week to one-loss Northern Nash, an eight-point defeat.

With a solid scoring foundation, Kennedy said, the focus has been on the surrounding unit during this turnaround. If the Firebirds can get solid production out of a handful of other players, they’ll have a strong team when it matters most, said the coach.

“Jalen’s averaging about 22 in conference. Tyler’s getting about 15. We know what we have with them,” he said. “What’s really happening is, basically between Cory (Foster), Tavaris (Brown) and Darius (Edmundson), one of those three guys has to play well. If we can ever got all three clicking, we’ll be a much better team.”

Girls: Wilson Hunt 52, Southern Nash 25

After a buzzer-beating shot by Southern Nash (0-16, 0-5 Big East) on Friday to end the first half, the Firebirds were only trailing Wilson Hunt by seven points at 25-18.

But the Warriors used a decisive third quarter run that carried into the final quarter, pulling away for a 52-25 win. Southern Nash managed just two baskets, two three-pointers by Stacie Winner and Rayna Bailey, respectively.

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