WILSON – Exactly a week before meeting in the Big East Conference Tournament quarterfinals Tuesday, Southern Nash upset Rocky Mount High.
Coaches of both teams attributed the Gryphons’ surprising loss to a lack of focus.
There was no such thing for Rocky Mount, as the Gryphons routed the Ladybirds, 49-23, at Wilson Hunt High School.
“I think Rocky Mount was a little more focused this time,” Southern Nash coach Wayne Bryant said. “Last time, I think they thought they were in for a cakewalk, but it goes to show you that anyone can get you on a given day.”
Khadijah Manning made a three on the first possession for Southern Nash (6-16), then the Ladybirds proceeded to miss 33 of their next 35 field goals.
The Gryphons (14-9) meanwhile, made a 13-0 run to end the first quarter, an 11-3 run to end the second quarter and a 9-0 run to begin the third quarter.
Carmen Richardson scored a game-high 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting for Rocky Mount, which held a 38-12 lead midway through the third quarter.
“I thought as far as X’s and O’s, we stuck to the gameplan for the most part,” Rocky Mount coach Pam Gainey said. “I thought we could have used a bit more enthusiasm.”
Gainey has stressed more exuberance from her squad, which lost five of its final six regular season games after beginning the conference slate by winning its first four games.
In part, Gainey has tried to keep the focus completely on basketball, and, as a result, forbid her team from speaking to reporters after the victory.
She doesn’t want – and the Gryphons can’t afford – any more outings like Feb. 5.
“I thought (Tuesday) we were a little more determined and focused than we were in the last game (against Southern Nash),” Gainey said. “In that game, we missed a lot of high percentage shots, and you just can’t do that and win a basketball game.”
Rocky Mount shot nearly 48 percent from the field against the Ladybirds but won the game on the other end.
Southern Nash was expecting Rocky Mount to play man-to-man defense but instead were met with a zone almost all game.
“That threw us off a little bit,” Bryant said. “It made us take a lot of shots that we didn’t really want to take.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com