BAILEY – It will be a long, important week for Southern Nash, but it started about as well as the Firebirds could have hoped.
Southern Nash will play four games this week – and three on the road – but it cleared the first of them with a big second half, running past Northern Nash, 62-44, on Tuesday at Southern Nash High School.
“(Tuesday) was big,” Southern Nash coach Robbie Kennedy said. “Our goal all season has been to be 1-0 every night. We’ll worry about the next night when it gets here, but (Tuesday), we did what we wanted to do and went 1-0.”
The first 22 minutes of the game suggested a finish that would be decided in the final minute, much like the first meeting, a tight Southern Nash win.
After Northern Nash’s D.J. Prunty hit a put-back to cut the Firebirds’ lead to 38-35, Southern Nash ran away with the game. The Firebirds (7-10, 3-1 Big East Conference) went on a 23-2 run, including a streak of 15 straight points, to win emphatically.
Northern Nash (6-12, 0-5) twice called timeouts during the run, yet could not stop it.
“They made a little run, and for the first time, I don’t feel like we responded (Tuesday),” Northern Nash coach Rick Ruffin said. “We had a poor second half, but after that run, I didn’t see the fight in our team that we’ve had all season.”
Ten Firebirds scored, led by Emmanual Merriweather with 13 points.
The Firebirds’ received a jolt from their bench, which led the majority of the key run and could prove important this week.
“Our starters sat almost the entire fourth quarter,” Kennedy said. “That’s good for our legs, I hope.”
Southern Nash travels to Nash Central today, then to both Wilson schools later this week.
“We had to send a statement and boost our record up,” said Marquise Wright, who scored 11 points. “We want to let teams know we’re a threat in the conference.”
Northern Nash doesn’t play until Friday, but this week will be a time to regroup, Ruffin said.
“We had a poor second half, but I didn’t see the fight on the defensive end I’ve see all season,” Ruffin said. “Like I told them (in the locker room), that’s just unacceptable.”
Northern Nash 63, Southern Nash 40
Northern Nash turned a close game into a blowout in the second half against Southern Nash to stay perfect in the Big East.
The Knights held a six-point lead at halftime but started an 11-0 run late in the third quarter, after which point the Ladybirds (7-10, 1-3) never threatened.
Alexus Hill scored 20 points and CeCe Harrison and Kiana Thomas both had 10 for the Knights (17-1, 5-0).
Destiny Burgess scored 26 points for Southern Nash, but the rest of her team scored a total of 14.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or firstname.lastname@example.org