Threes add up quicker than twos. It might sound basic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not accurate mathematics.
Southern Nash, despite being outscored at the free-throw line and making just one more field goal than Northern Nash, took a 10-point advantage into the final eight minutes Friday.
The Firebirds understood the simple arithmetic and took full advantage of it during a 66-56 victory against the Knights to remain unbeaten in the Big East Conference.
“We don’t make everything, but in practice, we shoot the ball really well,” Southern Nash coach Robbie Kennedy.” (Friday), they all hit. Most of the time it has been like one guy. ... We’re happy to be 2-0.”
With the Firebirds’ starters cold and gassed, Kennedy turned to his bench and a player who hadn’t seen much time in the past few games.
Emmanuel Merriweather, who said he didn’t hit a single shot during warm-ups, found an opening on the right wing midway through the first quarter and knocked down a three-pointer. On the next possession, he found the same result from the same spot.
The next time down court, the right wing produced another three points. Despite Northern Nash scoring in response to every shot, the Firebirds (6-9, 2-0) went from tied to ahead by four points.
“I didn’t expect to hit,” Merriweather said. “I knew I could hit some. I didn’t know I was going to get hot like that.”
Merriweather scored 18 of his career-high 24 points in the first half and hit six shots from behind the three-point arc. Five different players knocked down at least one three-pointer, and a trio of Firebirds came off the bench to hit at least two.
Southern Nash, which has lost five games by five points or fewer, circled last Friday on its calender, and Kennedy said he wrote ‘The real season starts now’ in the opening.
“We understand that we need to take care of business in the conference and play like we are capable of playing,” he said.
Northern Nash (6-9, 0-2) threw multiple defensive sets at the Firebirds, who easily broke down every one, but with an under-manned roster, the Knights couldn’t respond.
“With our personnel right now, we have a different type of team,” Knights coach Rick Ruffin said. “We can’t panic when we get down. We have to control the tempo of the game, and we have to be selective on shots.”
Northern Nash was without three rotation players, including former leading scorer Kendrick Richardson, who was removed from the team for disciplinary reasons. This is the third season Richardson has been kicked off or removed from the team.
Swingman Paul Cherry is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL and meniscus, and top outside threat Adam Renner missed the game with an illness.
Northern Nash 54 , Southern Nash 28
Behind forward Kiana Thomas, who nearly outscored the Ladybirds on her own, Northern Nash cruised to victory after shutting out Southern Nash in the third quarter.
“We work a lot on defense,” Northern Nash coach Grover Battle said. “We work on our strength – playing man-to-man. ... We shut them down and shut them out. It gave us a lift offensively.”
Northern Nash (14-1, 2-0) scored 21 straight points to start the second half, and when Thomas checked out of the game, her 19-point total was greater than the Firebirds’ 17 at that point.
BOYS Southern Nash 66 Northern Nash 56
SN 14 16 16 20 – 66
NN 12 13 11 20 – 56
SN: Emmanuel Merriweather (24 points); Bryan Vines (10 points); Marquise Wright (9 points); Jordan Newkirk (6 points); Leon Oates (6 points); Tahj Deans (3 points); Aaron Newkirk (3 points); Richard Hall (3 points); Deon Lavender (2 points).
NN: Demonte Johnson (19 points); Marcellus Major (11 points); DJ Prunty (10 points); Travon Clarke (7 points); Isaac Dupree (5 points); Tyler Jones (2 points); Tyler Brantley (2 points). GIRLS Northern Nash 54 Southern Nash 28
SN 7 5 0 16 – 28
NN 13 16 16 9 – 54
SN: Destiny Burgess (7 points); Khadijah Kale (7 points); Danyelle Noland (4 points); Christana Pulley (4 points); Christain Atkinson (3 points); Tyreka Nicholson (3 points).
NN: Kiana Thomas (19 points); Alexus Hill (9 points); Suzie Sykes (8 points); Alexia Hines (6 points); CeCe Harrison (6 points); Jahlia Williams (4 points); Briana Rosser (2 points).
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org