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A 12-0 run in the first quarter paced the Beddingfield High varsity boys basketball team to a 79-68 home win over 2-A Eastern Plains Conference foe North Johnston on Wednesday night.
The Panthers (5-9, 0-2 EPC) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first minute, but a 3-pointer by junior Andrew Gattis started a 12-0 Beddingfield (5-8, 2-0 EPC) run over the next three minutes.
“It seems like sometimes we start a little slow, but tonight we started pretty calm and then all of a sudden we started catching fire,” Beddingfield head coach Joe Dvozenja said.
After the run, North Johnston played catchup for the rest of the night as Beddingfield’s offense continued to find the open man. Gattis finished with eight points in the first quarter en route to a 22-point performance. Sophomore Lamont Speight tallied seven in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 23.
While North Johnston has struggled to find offense all year, on Wednesday the team’s defense allowed Beddingfield to get what it wanted as the lead ballooned to 30-11 for the Bruins with four minutes left in the second quarter.
“We struggled to contain ball pressure, and we work and work, but we still give up people to the basket way too easy,” North Johnston head coach Chris Batten said. “We talked about things at halftime, but we come out and instead of fixing the deficiencies, we do the exact same thing.”
North Johnston was able to cut the lead to nine in the third quarter on a Demaris Hicks 3-pointer to make it 43-34 with 4:50 left. But after that basket, the team scored two points the rest of the quarter. Beddingfield ended the period on a 15-2 run — capped off by junior Javan Best’s stepback contested 3-point jumper off the glass as the buzzer sounded. Best finished with 14 points as Beddingfield led 58-36 entering the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Beddingfield got sloppy with the ball and gave up some easy buckets to North Johnston. Foye was the biggest benefactor, as he scored 17 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter — including a thunderous alley-oop from Justin Vann over the Bruins’ Jamien Taylor.
The loss was North Johnston’s fifth straight, as the Panthers are struggling with injuries to multiple starters. Batten said his guys haven’t quit on him and he hopes that will help his team return to the winning ways.
“We were down 20 with three-and-a-half minutes to go, and we end up cutting it to 10,” Batten said. “The fact that they’re coming to practice everyday, they have a good mindset, they’re not throwing in the towel no matter what the situation, so that’s the one thing I hope to benefit us.”
Beddingfield has now won two of its last three. Dvozenja hopes the team is turning the corner and this is the reward for playing a tough nonconference schedule.
“Our nonconference schedule was to get us ready for this,” Dvozenja said. “We played very tough teams, big 3-A schools most of the time, even a great 1-A Tarboro. The teams on our schedule are very good. We’re trying to prepare the guys in the nonconference — and we might take some losses in the nonconference but in the end it prepares us for our conference.”
NORTH JOHNSTON (68)
Vann 7, Hinnant 11, Tinsley 2, York 1, Foye 21, Lucas 11, Rodrigues 5, Hicks 10
Brantley 7, Roesch 3, Speight 23, M. Best 8, J. Best 16, Gattis 22, Taylor
Score by quarters:
North Johnston 10 14 12 32 — 68
Beddingfield 20 14 24 21 — 79