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SMITHFIELD — After a game full of runs, the final one, executed by the Beddingfield boys basketball game, closed out a 61-56 nonconference win over Smithfield-Selma on the road Monday night.
With time winding down, the Spartans’ Jaylen Hinton hit a heat-check 3-pointer to give his team a 54-47 lead that looked like it could continue to grow. From that point, the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference Bruins went on a 14-0 run, encapsulating efforts from the whole team to snatch victory away from the host team — which could not muster a basket until the final one ended the game.
“I’ll use one of those old adages that makes everyone cringe, but it’s hard to beat someone three times in a year,” Beddingfield head coach Jeremy Howard said. “After playing them in the Christmas tournament the second time, we knew what each other were going to do and it was all about execution late. I thought they executed as well.”
The 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference Spartans and Bruins have seen plenty of each other, at the beginning of the season, in the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament, and now, but in all three matchups, Beddingfield has found a way to exercise the upperhand. This time around, the final time the teams will meet this season, the Bruins did it by receiving contributions from three scorers in double digits — Nathan Coley with a game-high 20 points, Raekwon Batts with 15 and Kaleb Harris with 13. A host of other players chipped in in different ways, including Jatavis Highsmith with six assists, Harris bringing down nine rebounds and Coley adding four more off the glass. With star player Avery Huggins out, Howard thought his team learned how to play with other players taking on expanded roles.
“I think it allows guys to expand their role,” Howard said of lessons learned from the victory that brings his team to 6-6 headed to Kenly to face EPC foe North Johnston on Wednesday. “We know late in the game that Nathan is a go-to guy from the perimete. I thought I got great minutes from Jalil Hutcherson, slashing driving, and the guys in the post, Kaleb Harris and Raekwon Batts, I think we can learn a lot from it. And we’re growing every game. It’s a good step forward for us.”
The contributions allowed Beddingfield to hold off the Spartans, who had three scorers in double-digits — Hinton, Elijah Weir with 11 points and Darius Faulk with 10 points.
The addition of each player helped the team to the victory, though none had a breakout game like Coley, who made a trio of 3-pointers and made 6-of-8 free throws to finish as the leading scorer in the game.
“After I hit the first one, I thought I was going to miss one,” admitted Coley. “I haven’t been practicing good and stuff, but it just clicked.”
Beddingfield and Smithfield-Selma spent the whole game trading leads.
The Spartans began the game on a 9-2 run, but quickly coughed up the advantage when the Bruins scored 13 of the next 15 points. By halftime, the teams were tied at 23, setting up another half where neither found the smoking gun to put the game away.
By midway the fourth quarter, it looked like the host team would be poised to make the kind of run needed to win. Hinton, who finished with 19 points, got on a hot streak from 3-point land, making four 3s in the second half, the last which put his team up seven with minutes to go.
Then suddenly, a problem that has plagued the 1-12 team all season kicked in.
“We just don’t know how to win,” SSS head coach Matt Cuddington said. “The past two games, we’ve been right there and we couldn’t close it out. It is because we’re so young, so growing pains.”
Highsmith 4, Williams 7, Coley 19, Harris 13, Batts 15, Davis 3.
Faulk 10, Weir 11, White 9, McNeill 3, Hinton 20, Gottuso 3.
Score by quarters:
Beddingfield 9 14 21 17 — 61
Smithfield-Selma 4 19 23 10 — 56