CLAYTON — The Cleveland, Princeton and West Johnston boys basketball teams entered play in the Cleveland Classic basketball holiday round robin with a goal of putting together back-to-back solid performances.
Even though none of the teams were able to do so as the Rams, Bulldogs and Wildcats each split their two games in the event, all three teams left the tournament being able to single out an area or two to focus on to get better.
Cleveland held the lead for much its opening game against Rosewood but a late scoring drought, which was fueled by turnovers, allowed the Eagles to come from behind and squeak by with a 54-53 victory.
The offensive execution was much crisper a night later, however, as the Rams took down rival West Johnston 54-30 behind balanced scoring.
“I preach limiting turnovers and rebounding and valuing every possession like it could be their last and they’re learning,” Cleveland coach John Jacobs said. “It’s good to play over the holidays and get two good games in.
“The real thing is to get better.”
Bobby Stenborg led the way with 17 points while Donovan Wright also made it to double figures with 11. Both players were named to the all tournament team.
In terms of consistency, for Princeton the emphasis is on turnovers.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over 17 times in a 67-53 loss to West Johnston but Princeton (6-5) totaled just three turnovers in three quarters of play before taking its starters out in a 63-40 win over Rolesville.
When we get as many shots as the other team, we’re pretty good,” Princeton coach Jeff Davis said. “Because we usually don’t create a lot of turnovers, we have to protect the basketball.”
Tanner Woodard led a balanced scoring attack in the win over the Rams with 18 points and was paired with Michael Wooten as the Bulldogs’ entrants on the all tournament team.
For West Johnston, the focus is on converting opportunities and doing the little things on defense to make it difficult for opposing teams to score.
In the Wildcats’ opener against Princeton, West Johnston checked both things off their to-do list as the Wildcats made nine three-pointers while doing a good job at boxing out and pressuring the Bulldogs.
West Johnston’s contest against Cleveland was much different, however, as the Wildcats made just two of 14 three-pointers and gave up 10 offensive rebounds to the Rams.
“The two games were complete opposites,” West Johnston coach Kris Bennett said. “We came out against Princeton and were very aggressive.
“Tonight, we had plenty of shots in the paint but we didn’t finish many of them and defensively we didn’t do the little things that we know we can do.”
Ryne Turner and Cameron Williams were also added to the all tournament team.