Everything Nash Central did to earn a 17-point halftime lead was lost when the Bulldogs stopped doing the little things.
Just in time for the Bulldogs, they started boxing out, winning loose balls, rebounding properly and taking care of the ball once their lead was reduced to just four by Northern Nash with four minutes to play.
The Bulldogs held on for a 64-48 victory in a game that didn’t leave coach Renny Taylor nervous as much as it did angry.
“Early on we do the little things that get you a big lead,” Taylor said. “... Then, what happens is everybody quits doing the little things. The little things are what win for you.”
After losing is Big East conference opener, Nash Central (8-4, 2-1) has now won two straight conference games. The Bulldogs won Wednesday night because they were able to figure out what gave them a big first-half lead, and Taylor was able to correct a slight coaching mistake.
With the Bulldogs in a 3-2 zone defense in the third quarter, Northern Nash (5-8, 1-2) was able to score a plethora of second-chance buckets. Combined with multiple 3-pointers and five Nash Central turnovers in the first two minutes of the second half, Northern Nash was able to close the gap.
“It was almost like they said, 'If we are up X amount at half, you should double it, and that’s how much we should win by,’” Taylor said. “You can be a good team and do that. You just can’t.”
Taylor switched back to man-to-man defense, and the Bulldogs were finally able to replicate their first-half success when forward Nathaniel Pittman, who finished with a game-high 31 points, scored 18 points in the second quarter.
The Knights were able to close the lead, something coach Rick Ruffin was pleased with, but again came up short in the final minutes.
“It’s January, it’s time to grow up,” Ruffin said. “Yeah, we’re young, but it’s time to grow up, learn from mistakes and move on from some of the mistakes we are making with shot selection that we could have just done differently in the last four minutes.”
Northern Nash 61 Nash Central 36
For a long time, Northern Nash’s best offense was its high-pressure defense.
That’s slowly becoming a myth.
Northern Nash (13-0, 3-0) executed in the halfcourt as guards Alexus Hill (15 points) and Quenisha Lynch (10 points) scored in double figures, and the Knights remained unbeaten.
“I’m still not satisfied with the way we played halfcourt,” Grover Battle said. “We’re still better than last year. We’ve got better shooters around the perimeter.”
Nash Central (7-5, 0-3) was without leading scorer Timyra Staton, who will miss at least two weeks with a right knee strain she suffered last Friday.
“You have to have more than one person step up,” Nash Central coach Terri Cash said. “One person can’t fill her shoes, the team as a whole has to fill them.”
BOYS Nash Central 64 Northern Nash 48 NN 9 17 13 9 – 48 NC 19 24 5 16 – 64 NN: Darryl Prunty (15 points); Isaac Dupree (14 points); Isiah Alston (9 points); Donte’ McNeil (7 points); Adam Renner (2 points); Jaquez Avent (1 point). NC: Nathaniel Pittman (31 points); Jaquan Wilkins (10 points); Daniel Pittman (9 points); LJ Porcher (6 points); Cole Smith (6 points); Chris Alston (2 points).
GIRLS Northern Nash 61 Nash Central 36 NN 19 16 13 13 – 61 NC 10 6 9 11 – 36 NN: Alexus Hill (15 points); Quinesha Lynch (10 points); Jordan Oldham (6 points); Camile Branch (6 points); Deja Lewis (4 points); Suzie Sykes (3 points); Alexia Hines (2 points); Shakyia Mercer (2 points); Kayla Tucker (1 point). NC: Ni’Ya Styles (11 points); Jalynn Westry (10 points); Dana Kelly (4 points); Brittani Strickland (3 points); Deztanie Hill (2 points); MarQuesha Washington (2 points); Alexia Jones (2 points); Kiana Thompson (1 point); Kadeisha Perry (1 point).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org