WENDELL — East Wake and Knightdale each picked up a pair of victories in the Pirates Holiday Classic, but the East Wake boys went home with the championship trophy.
East Wake defeated Rocky Mount 62-57 in the second round on Saturday in the two-day, round-robin event and then Warriors coach Darrin Stinson had to wait for the results of the day’s final game to see if his team was going to be the champion or the runner-up.
Knightdale topped host Corinth Holders 72-52 in the final game of the tournament but was the runner-up because it allowed more points than East Wake in its two victories – the tiebreaker if two teams finished with the same record in the event.
East Wake gave up 101 points in its two tourney games against Corinth Holders and Rocky Mount. Knightdale allowed 111 in its two wins.
“It’s always nice (to win a tournament),” Stinson said. “But we want that one at the end, you know the conference championship and stuff. This is just a stepping stone. We are going to make sure we keep working hard and try to get to the top.”
East Wake (9-3) went on a 21-3 run in the second half to build a 13-point lead against Rocky Mount (6-4) with 4:48 left in the fourth quarter, but the Gryphons rallied to pull within 57-56 on a basket by Broderick Caudle with 1:15 remaining in the game.
A basket by Quincy Jackson put the Warriors up 59-56 with a minute left and East Wake allowed only one free throw in the final 60 seconds to hold off the Gryphons, who missed four 3-point attempts in the final minute.
Senior forward Nahjuwan Potts led the Warriors with 23 points and Jackson, a junior forward, had 12.
“We picked up our energy (in the second half),” East Wake coach Stinson said. “We had a couple of steals and got comfortable with our press. I thought we got sloppy at the end of each half.
“I’m proud of the way we played a bigger team, a good program. That is what I am trying to do at East Wake, is to make this a basketball program again.”
East Wake and Knightdale are both members of the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference. Each team has a 2-1 league record.
Rocky Mount featured a lineup of four players 6-foot-5 or taller.
Dante Battle, a 6-5 senior forward, led the Gryphons with 14 points. Junior guard Isaiah Alston had 13 and Caudle, also a junior guard, added 11.
“I liked the way they came back, but we shouldn’t have had to do all that work at the end,” Rocky Mount coach Mike Gainey said. “The big men got in foul trouble. We’ve got to get more aggressive on our end. We didn’t go to the free throw line until the fourth quarter. That’s totally impossible with a team our size.”
In the final game, Knightdale (9-3) had a battle on its hands against Corinth Holders (1-11) for three quarters.
Ahead 52-46, the Knights scored the first seven points of the final quarter to go up 59-46 and led by double digits the rest of the way – outscoring the Pirates 20-6 in the final frame.
Junior forward Daquan Lilly led Knightdale with 14 points, junior guard Tre Fowler had 13 and junior guard Ronshad Allen-Shabazz had 12.
Allen-Shabazz started the 7-0 run to begin the fourth quarter with a jumper and a dunk on a fast break and Fowler then was fouled while driving to the basket for a bucket and completed the conventional 3-point play.
“I thought Corinth Holders played very good from the beginning and made the game very competitive,” Knightdale coach Anthony Byrd said. “We felt coming into the second half if we started sharing the basketball a little more and playing with a little more intensity both offensively and defensively that we could pick the score up a little bit. That is pretty much what happened in the fourth quarter.”
Corinth Holders, which won 22 games a year ago and is playing a much tougher schedule this season in making the jump from the 2A to the 3A level, has been competitive in the early going but has only been able to scratch out one win.
“We ran out of gas a little bit at the end,” Corinth Holders coach Chris Davis said. “A couple of little turnovers here and there that were unforced, they are back-breakers. They take your energy even more than running up and down the floor does sometimes.
“There are some things that needed to be shored up, but you could see the things that needed to be fixed tonight. I figured this year was going to be a struggle. My point guard (Kahlil Larry) was unbelievable and I graduated 50 points a game.
“I knew there were going to be some learning curves, but tonight was playing hard, playing together. You can build off that.”