By way of having two playoffs basketball programs, Rocky Mount High’s boys’ hoopsters were relegated to a junior varsity atmosphere Wednesday evening.
With the attention focused five miles away on the girls’ second-round game at Northern Nash, there was plenty of empty bleacher space in the Gryphons’ gymnasium for the defending 3-A state champions’ game against South Brunswick.
After all, the matchup was a mismatch on paper, and it was the same when the game tipped off, too.
In front of fewer than 150 people, top-seeded Rocky Mount had nearly every player on its roster score in a 73-52 victory against South Brunswick.
The Gryphons will play host to Pikeville Aycock on Friday night.
“We knew nobody was coming,” said a smiling Rocky Mount coach Mike Gainey. “Our goal was to get it over early and go see our girls. It wasn’t to take anyone lightly, but just understanding that we had to get ready for Friday.”
M.J. Gainey paced Rocky Mount with 17 points, while Dante Battle added 14 and Michael Hines 10.
Only one of South Brunswick’s starting five players was taller than any of the Gryphons’.
The Cougars (4-21) came into the contest averaging only 45 points per contest to the Gryphons’ 70.
Rocky Mount (24-2) harrassed South Brunswick with a defensive press that paved the way for a 24-5 lead after the first quarter.
The visitors drew no closer than 17 points the remainder of the way.
“We’re playing pretty good,” Michael Hines said. “We still have to make more free throws and not blow layups. The final score says it all, and overall it was a good win.”
The Gryphons are a win away from a return to the 3-A regional tournament in Fayetteville.
“We took two steps,” Gainey said. “We have four more to go.”
Rocky Mount High 73
South Brunswick 52
SB 5 12 17 18 – 52
RMH 24 18 9 22 – 73
SB: Monjharvis Walls (17 points); Dylan Mosely (10 points); Khalin Clemmons (10 points); Caleb Stanley (5 points); James Prince (5 points); Michael Moss (3 points); Savon Cox (2 points)
RMH: M.J. Gainey (17 points); Dante Battle (14 points); Michael Hines (10 points); Immanuel King (8 points); Jaequez Jones (4 points); Mason Hines (4 points); Ahmad Harrell (3 points); Broderick Caudle (3 points); J.T. Smith (2 points); Thomas Cooper III (2 points); Tyler Harmanson (2 points); Austin Warner (2 points); Aumir Pittman (2 points)
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org