SMITHFIELD — Dannya Tavarez early. Diamond Blackston late.
Smithfield-Selma’s duo of junior guards combined for 33 points as the Spartans earned their second win of the season Friday over visiting Corinth Holders, 48-43 in Two Rivers 3A play.
Tavarez scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half before giving way to Blackston, who pocketed 12 of her 18 points after the break.
Tavarez got things underway with three straight 3-pointers in the early going.
“She lit it up. That got us off to a good start,” said SSS coach William Sanders. “We just built the momentum from there and then we could start subbing in and it felt good to be able to do that tonight.”
That opened the door for Blackston, who accounted for five of Smithfield-Selma’s first nine buckets of the second half. The Spartans led 24-19 at halftime and then kept the Pirates at arm’s length, never relinquishing the lead.
“The first three quarters I like to pass the ball to my teammates and by that time (the opposition) thinks that they’re the shooters and then in the fourth quarter I take my shots,” Blackston said.
The Pirates trimmed what was once a 10-point deficit to six points with over a minute to play and then to four points with nine seconds left. A pair of free throws by Blackston ended any chance of a comeback.
“We acted like we were trying to give it away at the end,” Sanders said. “We’ve just got to stay disciplined.”
Cyarra Pierson led the Pirates with 14 points while Khadijah Neal chipped in 11 and Holly Price added 10.
Blackston and Tavarez have proved to be a valuable tandem for the Spartans this year. They entered Friday’s contest averaging 12.9 and 12.1 points per game respectively.
“I have the mindset when I get on the court that nobody can guard me,” Blackston said.
After an 0-13 start to the season, Friday’s win was the second in the last four games for Smithfield-Selma. The win improved the Spartans to 2-15 overall and 1-3 in conference play while Corinth Holders dropped to 5-9 (1-3).
“It feels good,” Blackston said. “To work as a team and actually be contributing and doing what we said we were going to do feels good.”
There was one loss for the Spartans however when starter Dazmine Young suffered a fourth-quarter ankle injury.
“Even though it was a win, they didn’t feel like they won,” Sanders said. “I told them we haven’t won enough games to get that real spirit of winning.”