WILSON – The Bulldogs had to be close to perfect.
So when Nash Central ran a set to spring an open player for an easy lob, and the entry pass sailed well high and out-of-bounds, Bulldogs coach Renny Taylor punched his chair and let everyone know just how perfectly the game wasn’t going.
The only welcome sight for the No. 11 Bulldogs was the clock hitting zero as sixth-seeded Wilson Hunt won, 74-30, in a lopsided NCHSAA 3-A first round playoffs game Monday at Hunt High School.
“We knew we could come in here and win if we played our game,” Nash Central guard-forward Nathaniel Pittman said. “We really didn’t at all.”
The Bulldogs (13-10) played a bad first quarter in the second matchup against Hunt but finished with three strong quarters, fighting back in the game before losing by six.
When Nash Central trailed the Warriors (21-5) by just two after one quarter Monday, the Bulldogs’ bench was encouraged that an upset was in the making.
Instead, the game viciously swayed the other way. Hunt outscored Nash Central, 24-3, in the second quarter.
“We thought if we came out and at least played with them in the first quarter, we’d be good to go,” Taylor said. “That was what happened in the last game – we didn’t. So we played good in the first quarter (Monday), then we just couldn’t make a shot.”
Giving up size, Nash Central was forced to double or at least help on Hunt’s much bigger post players. The Bulldogs’ constant caving allowed space for the Warriors’ guards, particularly Keenan Tabron, who scored 21 points before halftime and 25 total.
Tabron hit his first seven shots as the Warriors kept scoring while the Bulldogs were left with little recourse.
“With them it’s really pick your poison,” Taylor said. “What can you do? When you’re a team like us that’s really small, you just can’t matchup. You gotta do some funky stuff. And our funky stuff was really funky (Monday).”
Daniel Pittman led Nash Central with eight points, and Nathaniel Pittman added seven points.
The two Pittmans and Jaquan Wilkins combined for 15 rebounds, but the rest of the team managed just three.
After the Warriors switched from their zone and made the Bulldogs win individual battles, the game quickly became ugly. Hunt outscored Nash Central, 61-19, after the tactical change.
“We’ve been good against man all year,” Taylor said. “The two (previous) times we played them, it was all 2-3 zone. Man didn’t surprise us. We prepare for everything, we just didn’t run our sets right.”
In the second round, the Warriors will travel to No. 3 West Craven, which beat North Lenoir on Monday.
Wilson Hunt 74
Nash Central 30
NC 11 3 10 6 – 30
WH 13 24 20 17 – 74
WH: Keenan Tabron (25 points); Daniel Westbrook (13 points); Jaylen Gilliam (8 points); Dwanya Sutton, Justin Jefferson (6 points); Travon Davis (5 points); Isaiah White, Dexter Wright (4 points); Orlando Dickens (2 points); Javis Neal-Hill (1 point).
NC: Daniel Pittman (8 points); Nathaniel Pittman (7 points); L.J. Porcher (5 points); Tyreeq Harrison, Tyler Hale, Cole Smith, Jaquan Wilkins, Houshon Gaines (2 points).
Greenville Conley 60
Nash Central 43
NC: Kat Wilkins (8 points); Dana Kelly (2 points); Ni’Ya Styles (17 points); Deztanie Hill (2 points); Jalynn Westry (5 points); Brittani Strickland (8 points); Marquesha Washington (1 point).
GC: Alex Hobgood (2 points); Lavivica Wilson (2 points); Tichina Carmon (9 points); Madison Maloney (19 points); Erin Fulcher (2 points); Teshanna Phillips 10; Jessica McBeth (6 points); Kristina Howard (10 points).
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com