When Rocky Mount High coach Mike Gainey finds himself flipping through channels on winter nights, the remote usually parks for the evening when he finds Syracuse playing basketball.
Gainey’s teams normally are pressure-based defenses, but he always has had a fondness for Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s famous 2-3 match-up zone defense.
To Gainey’s credit, his Gryphons did a fine impression of Syracuse’s defense, using a strong second half to beat Greenville Rose, 77-45, on Wednesday at Rocky Mount High School.
“We’re looking for other teams to get one chance at the basket and that’s it,” Gainey said. “We want to use our length to force bad shots, then create from the rebounds.”
Rocky Mount (11-1) overcame a mostly sluggish first half to take complete control of the game in the second, going on a 16-2 run to begin the third quarter and never leading by fewer than 14 the rest of the way.
Dante Battle scored 16 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for the Gryphons, who had 12 players score against Rose.
Jaquell Bryant scored 15 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, for Rocky Mount, which will open conference play with a home matchup against Nash Central on Friday night.
Rose struggled to create good looks against the Gryphons’ 2-3 zone. When the Rampants did create good shots, oftentimes their attempts were blocked or altered by a Rocky Mount frontcourt that has the luxury of size.
“We’re a long team compared to past years,” Battle said. “We just want to keep our hands up and use that length to make them take bad shots.”
Cornell Powell led Rose with 20 points, but the rest of his teammates managed 25 total.
Gainey said Rocky Mount’s principles are the same as they have been in the past years, but their methods will have to be different this season.
“We still want to put pressure on the ball and run,” Gainey said, “But we’re not as deep as we’ve been. We can only go seven or eight guys (and still be) comfortable.
“That’s why we’re getting our bench guys work. We’ll need them.”
Rocky Mount High 71, Greenville Rose 18
Rocky Mount High’s girls’ team forced Greenville Rose into 56 turnovers as the Gryphons (8-4) coasted to a blowout victory in their last nonconference game.
J’Kyra Brown scored 32 points for Rocky Mount, while Carmen Richardson and Kelsey Daniels added 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The Rampants never scored more than six points in a quarter and committed 30 turnovers in the first half.
Rocky Mount led, 33-8, at halftime, and any threat of a comeback was ended when the Gryphons went on a 12-0 run to start the second half, aided by 10 Rose turnovers in the first three minutes of the third quarter.
“We always want good defense,” Rocky Mount coach Pam Gainey said. “The girls are starting to buy into what we do, and they came and played hard (Wednesday).”
Rocky Mount High 71
Greenville Rose 18
GR 6 2 6 4 – 18
RMH 19 14 17 21 – 71
GR: Erin Walden, Allen Walker, Takia Thipen (4 points); Myainya Daniels (3 points); Takyia Smith (2 points); Lauren Coltran (1 point).
RMH: J’Kyra Brown (32 points); Carmen Richardson (14 points); Kelsey Daniels (12 points); Takeyra Thomas (4 points); Destini Parker, Chekelvia Yarrell, Kyler Daniels, Raiche Deloach (2 points); Cureshia Murhpy (1 points).
Rocky Mount High 77
Greenville Rose 45
GR 12 10 12 9 – 45
RMH 11 19 25 22 – 77
GR: Cornell Powell (20 points); Marquise Braxton, OcKwan Hart (9 points); Johnson Little (5 points); Kwami Smith (2 points).
RMH: Dante Battle (16 points); Jaquell Bryant (15 points); M.J. Gainey (10 points); Mason Hines, Michael Hines (7 points); Kenaz Cooper (6 points); Austin Warner (4 points); Immanuel King, J.T. Smith (3 points); Thomas Cooper, Ahmad Harrell, Tony Batts (2 points);