WILSON – It wasn’t a victory, but Nash Central taught itself something in its second contest against Wilson Hunt, a six-point defeat.
With the exception of a poor first quarter, the Bulldogs were the better side, which let Nash Central know it could beat anyone in the conference.
Since then, the Bulldogs have been playing confident, thorough basketball, and they find it no coincidence that they have earned two straight wins.
The third-seeded Bulldogs made a big run in the first quarter and led by double digits the remainder of the game, beating No. 6 Wilson Fike, 63-43, in the Big East Conference Tournament quarterfinals Monday at Wilson Hunt High School.
“The guys realized that if they don’t play well, we’re not the type of team that can not play well and still win the game,” Nash Central coach Renny Taylor said. “We have to go out there and be a dot-the-I’s-and-cross-the-T’s-type team.”
Nash Central (13-8) turned over the ball on its first two possessions, which was the end of the Bulldogs’ poor play.
From there, Nash Central scored 16 of the next 17 points and never allowed the Golden Demons (4-17) to come anywhere close to taking back the lead.
Nathaniel Pittman led all scorers with 22 points for Nash Central, which will move on to play second-seeded Rocky Mount High in Wednesday’s semifinals.
Like Friday’s win at Southern Nash, the Bulldogs found their way to the rim and won the battle in transition. More, importantly, they did so for 32 minutes.
“We were kind of disappointed in the Hunt game, because besides that one quarter, we won every quarter,” Pittman said. “If we had come out and scored more than three points in the first quarter, we would have won that game.
“We’ve been practicing hard. It’s playoff time, conference time, and we want to go farther than the first or second round.”
In an added bonus, the Bulldogs dominated the glass against Fike. For the majority of the season, Nash Central has struggled rebounding the ball, but Monday, Nash Central attempted 18 more field goals than the Golden Demons.
The challenge for Taylor and the Bulldogs is to continue crashing the boards as they did Monday on a regular basis.
“I’m going to be happy we did rebound a little bit better (Monday),” Taylor said. “I just wish I was confident we would rebound the next game as well.”
No. 3 Nash Central 63
No. 6 Wilson Fike 43
WF 5 12 14 12 – 43
NC 16 14 21 12 – 63
WF: Jakel Jenkins, Brandon Gray (10 points); Trevon Virgil, Anthony Evans (6 points); Brandon Monk (5 points); T.J. Harris, A.J. Hines (3 points).
NC: Nathaniel Pittman (22 points); Jaquan Wilkins (12 points); Daniel Pittman(8 points); L.J. Porcher (6 points); Wendell Hunter (5 points); Cole Smith, Tyler Hale (4 points); Hakeem Taylor (2 points).
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com