Rocky Mount High’s offense did nearly everything at certain times of Friday night, and for the most part, the Gryphons saw most of it work.
It’s the other end that Rocky Mount coach Mike Gainey is worried about in the short term.
Rocky Mount did enough to beat Greenville Rose, 71-54, at Rocky Mount High School, but Gainey said the Gryphons’ patchy defense “isn’t good enough right now.”
“We can score with anybody,” Gainey said, “But right now, we can’t play any defense.”
Rocky Mount (5-2) built a 17-5 to start the game thanks to its dominant frontcourt of Dante Battle, Immanuel King and Jaquell Bryant.
The trio scored 13 total points in the early stages as Rocky Mount went on an 11-0 run in the quarter and looked poised for a blowout win.
The Rampants (2-3) fought their way back into the contest in the second quarter behind Cornell Powell and Quinton Jones, both inside-outside players whom the Gryphons struggled to defend.
By halftime, Rocky Mount’s lead was down to four.
“We have to work on our rotating and our talking,” Gainey said. “Right now, we don’t communicate. We’re not looking to help each other out enough.”
In the third quarter, Isaiah Alston buried four three-pointers – he led Rocky Mount with 21 points – to push the lead back to double-digits, where it remained the rest of the night.
Alston shot 1-for-5 from the field in the first half before making five of his seven field goal attempts in the second half.
All six of his made field goals were 3-pointers.
“Coach told me to keep shooting because, eventually, they’ll go in,” Alston said. “I did, and that’s basically what happened in the second half.”
Powell led all scorers with 22 points.
Battle added 14 points for Rocky Mount, while King had 12.
Rocky Mount felt pleased with the offense, but it still has to gel. The Gryphons forced 19 turnovers but committed 20 themselves.
A big portion of Gainey’s system is the Gryphons’ ability to score easy buckets in transition, and Gainey said that comes from the defense.
“Defense is all coach talks about,” Alston said. “He’s always talking about being better in our rotations. In practice, it seems like all we do is defense.”
Rocky Mount is off until the Nash County Christmas Tournament, which begins Tuesday at Northern Nash High School.
Rocky Mount High 57, Greenville Rose 38
Rocky Mount used a third-quarter run to put away Greenville Rose on Friday at Rocky Mount High School. The Gryphons went on a 13-0 run to take a 24-point lead, essentially clinching the game.
“I thought we did a better job the third of playing as a team,” Rocky Mount coach Pam Gainey said. “Early on, some of us maybe entered the game with ideas of our own.”
The Gryphons (5-2) weren’t crisp in the first half. A turnover-heavy 16 minutes saw bad spacing and poor shot selection as Rose stayed in the game.
When Rocky Mount started running its offense, the game changed.
“Funny how that happens, isn’t it?” Gainey said.
Three Gryphons scored in double figures, led by Tamara Harper with 20 points. Keyanna Spivey scored 13, and Takeyra Thomas added 10.
With three seniors and five freshmen, Gainey said this portion of the schedule will be important for a young team still learning.
And one thing that needs to be a staple, she said, is sticking to the plan established before the game.
“We practice for a reason, and it is not to get in the game and run amok,” Gainey said. “Strength in numbers is the bottom line.”
Rocky Mount High 71
Greenville Rose 54
GR 9 18 8 19 – 54
RMH 17 14 15 25 – 71
GR: Cornell Powell 22; Quinton Jones 8; Marquell Nelson 6; Jocquel Streeter 5; Geo Hardy-Williams 3; Omisha Stewart 3; Matt Romagna; Trey Stafford 2; Marquise Braxton 2.
RMH: Isaiah Alston 21; Dante Battle 14; Immanuel King 12; Broderick Caudle 7; Raheem Taylor 6; Jaquez Jones 5; Jaquell Bryant 4; Blake Helms 2.
Rocky Mount High 57
Greenville Rose 38
GR 11 9 7 11 – 38
RMH 16 15 19 7 – 57
GR: Myania Daniels 9; Jillian Ebron 9; Kamaih Gilbert 8; Takia Thigpen 7; Takiya Smith 5.
RMH: Tamara Harper 20; Keyanna Spivey 13; Takeyra Thomas 10; Carmen Richardson 7; Raiche Deloach 5; Jarnesse Carey 2.
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or email@example.com