BAILEY – The way Friday night started, Southern Nash couldn’t miss. Every back cut was an easy lay-up. Every possession on defense turned into a missed shot by Bunn or a turnover.
The way it ended, the Firebirds missed almost everything.
After racing out to an early lead, Southern Nash struggled to knock down the open shots they were given by the Bunn zone defense, and the Firebirds’ issues grew before culminating in a 54-49 defeat at Southern Nash High School.
“We got out to a good start,” Southern Nash coach Robbie Kennedy said. “They went zone, and we just kind of got complacent on offense. It slowed us down, and we settled for jump shots.”
Shots that didn’t go in.
Southern Nash (3-7) scored the first eight points of the game and held Bunn without a field goal for nearly five minutes.
But soon open lay-ups became turnovers, and the Firebirds failed to shoot Bunn out of its zone defense. Southern Nash hit just a pair of three-pointers – one in the final seconds.
“We weren’t making shots,” said forward Tahj Deans, who led the team with 18 points. “We were making it hard on ourselves. That’s basically what it was.”
More than that, Southern Nash wasn’t trying to work the ball into the paint. When the Firebirds, who have lost twice this season on last-second shots, finally worked the ball inside to Deans, they scored.
Deans scored nine of his 18 points in the final quarter, but Southern Nash never was able to pull within one possession because it routinely hurt itself. An open lay-up that could have cut the game to one possession was missed.
So were the two free throws that could have done the same.
In the final minute, Southern Nash’s inbounder stepped onto the court before passing the ball to a teammate. The Firebirds were down by just five.
“That’s probably the worst we’ve played since we’ve had our football guys,” said Kennedy, whose team starts three players who also play football. “... Anytime they went man, we were good. When they went zone, we couldn’t make an outside shot.”
Bunn 41, Southern Nash 29
The Ladybirds first lead of the game was quick and futile, mainly because it also was their last lead Friday night.
After Southern Nash (5-5) took a one-point lead early in the second quarter, Bunn went on a 15-1 run.
“It seemed like it took us so long to get in the groove,” Southern Nash coach Wayne Bryant said. “When we finally made a run and cut it to four, we were probably drained from extending the press.”
Bunn had two athletic guards – Tainasha Vines (12 points) and Precious Walker (13 points) – at the top of its zone defense.
The pair created multiple turnovers, which led to fast-break points.
The Ladybirds pulled within four points late but couldn’t close the gap as Bunn scored eight unanswered to end the game.
Southern Nash 49
B 6 17 17 14 – 54
SN 9 9 13 18 – 49
B: Deshawn High (17 points); TJ Jones (13 points); Aaron Simmons (8 points); Tyler Sanders (6 points); Jordan Lucas (6 points); Quinton Wright (2 points); Hoither Davis (2 points).
SN: Tahj Deans (18 points); Deon Lavender (8 points); Jordan Newkirk (6 points); Richard Hall (6 points); Marquise Wright (4 points); Buddy Settles (4 points); Leon Oates (2 points); Vines (1 point).
Southern Nash 29
B 9 17 6 9 – 41
SN 5 10 4 10 – 29
B: Precious Walker (13 points); Tainasha Vines (12 points); Aaliyah Simmons (8 points); Casandra Key (6 points); Kiera Gallatin (2 points).
SN: Tyreka Nicholson (11 points); Destiny Burgess (8 points); Khadijah Kale (4 points); Danyelle Noland (2 points); Christina Pulley (2 points); Kaylisha Anderson (2 points).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org