Clayton girls’ basketball coach Marlon Lee was looking for another player to step up in a scorer’s role.
He found more than one.
Amber Caudle and Ashley Murphy combined for 31 points Friday as the Comets downed Harnett Central 56-35 in the Greater Neuse River Conference opener for both teams.
Caudle entered the game averaging 9.2 points per game, while Murphy came in scoring 5.2. Caudle scored all 16 of her points through the first two and a half quarters, while running mate Murphy scored 10 of her 15 points after halftime, and the Comets never trailed while running their record to 7-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play.
“(Coach Lee) told us before the game we can’t just depend on one or two players,” Caudle said. “Everyone has to pitch in, and it has to be a team effort.”
“That’s what we’re going to need,” Lee said. “We’re going to need somebody to step up and get points for us. It was good that somebody was able to step up, because we’re definitely going to need some other scorers besides Taisha (Murphy).”
Taisha Murphy leads the Comets with 21.4 points per game but was held in check with just six first-half points Friday. But Lee points to his point guard’s ability to create scoring for other players.
“She’s a two-edged sword,” Lee said of Taisha Murphy, who finished with 15 points. “She can score, and she can also create for others.”
“I was just depending on (Taisha) Murphy with her passes,” Caudle said. “She was giving me good looks, and I stepped in when I needed to.”
The bonus scoring was even more helpful on a night when Jenna Harris (10.4 points per game) was held without a field goal and scored just three points.
During one stretch spanning the second and third quarters, Caudle scored 12 of Clayton’s 17 points, including nine straight. Caudle then passed the baton to Ashley Murphy, who accounted for five field goals during a pivotal stretch in the third and fourth quarters that swelled the Comet lead from nine to 17 points.
Clayton led 31-22 early in the third quarter but allowed Harnett Central (3-5, 0-1) to hang around until a 23-5 run put the game out of reach.
Clayton unleashed a barrage of three-point attempts throughout the game, and although not a single one dropped in, the strategy proved effective. The Comets got a number of second-chance buckets and found their way to the foul line on the offensive glass while stretching the Trojan defense thin.
“My motto is we can’t shoot too much, but we can miss too much. And we missed them all,” Lee said. “But the threats that we do have outside are going to open up the inside. They have to respect us, and if they don’t, we’re going to drive in for the easy shot. I tell the girls that a missed shot can be just like a pass, especially if we get a chance to rebound. I’d rather shoot the ball than just throw it away.”
And he’s found some girls willing to shoot – and score.