With the sun shining through the windows of the Rocky Mount High School gymnasium, there was a strange feel to Saturday’s doubleheader between the Gryphons and Nash Central – almost like it was just a practice.
The way the Nash Central girls’ team played, it sure felt like a scrimmage.
Midway through the second quarter of the Gryphons’ 60-33 victory, Rocky Mount coach Pam Gainey, who is by far the more stoic of the Gryphons’ basketball coaching couple, even cracked a smile. The expression on Nash Central coach Terri Cash’s face was much different.
“We didn’t do anything well,” Cash said. “We came out bad. We never recovered.”
Rocky Mount High (12-6, 6-2 Big East) scored the first nine points of the game and had unanswered runs of eight, seven and seven points before the end of the third quarter.
The Gryphons allowed Nash Central (13-7, 3-3) just five points in the first quarter and one made field goal in the second quarter.
“Coach Gainey has told us early in the season that our defense is our calling card and that we needed to believe in it,” said Rocky Mount guard Carmen Richardson, who scored a game-high 19 points. “A lot of the seniors have stepped in leadership, and we’ve asked the girls to take pride in the fact that we want to play defense first.
“You can’t make a turnover on defense. All you can do is play as hard as you can.”
Rocky Mount certainly forced plenty of turnovers early, keeping Nash Central, which played its fourth game in five days, off balance and out of sync.
“I don’t want to make excuses,” Cash said. “Do I think it’s hard to play four games in fives days? Yes, I do. But the still ball gets thrown up. Rocky Mount doesn’t care that we played (Friday) night. You still have to be ready to play.”
Nash Central didn’t score back-to-back field goals until one minute remained in the game, but even with the dominating victory, Gainey still wanted a more complete effort from her young team, which starts three freshmen.
“We are not maintaining that level of intensity, I don’t think so,” she said. “... That can get us in trouble. That’s characteristic of an inexperienced group.”
Rocky Mount High 73 Nash Central 39
The Bulldogs’ grueling week finally is finished, but they aren’t better off for it.
Nash Central (4-17, 0-7) finally ended a stretch of four losses in five days – one in triple overtime and another by one point less than 24 hours earlier. The final loss was a blowout.
“I don’t know if it’s wearing on them but it sure is wearing on me,” said Nash Central coach Renny Taylor, who is in the middle of the worst season of his coaching career.
Rocky Mount (12-7, 6-2) cruised from the start as 12 different players scored.
Rocky Mount High 60
Nash Central 33
NC 5 6 10 12 – 33
RMH 19 18 13 10 – 60
NC: Kathryn Williams (12 points); Brittani Strickland (8 points); Michael Nelms (7 points); Ni’Ya Styles (3 points); Tashonda Brown (2 points); Krystal Atkinson (1 point).
RMH: Carmen Richardson (19 points); Tamara Harper (11 points); Raiche Deloach (9 points); Keyanna Spivey (6 points); Michelle Gainey (5 points); Takeyra Thomas (5 points); Shelby Meeks (3 points); Ashley Hatfield (2 points).
Rocky Mount High 73
Nash Central 39
NC 3 8 10 18 – 39
RMH 15 10 20 28 – 73
NC: Aaron Spivey (23 points); Joshua Mullins (4 points); Seddrick Horne (4 points); Jurwan Mercer Harris (2 points); Alex Corbin (2 points); Garrison Vick (2 points); Daniel Pittman (1 point); Wayne Sanders (1 point).
RMH: Immanuel King (18 points); Isaiah Alston (14 points); Jaquell Bryant (10 points); Dante Battle (10 points); Brod Caudle (6 points); J.T. Smith (3 points); Jaquez Jones (2 points); Kenaz Cooper (2 points); Blake Helms (2 points); Fornay Lee (2 points); Raheem Taylor (2 points); Aumir Pittman (2 points).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org