Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
The return of 5-foot-10 senior Imani Sutton marked a welcomed presence for the homestanding Hunt High varsity girls basketball Thursday evening.
But even Sutton’s encouraging performance was not enough to rescue Hunt from the doldrums of a horrendous opening quarter that springboarded 3-A East Wake to a 58-47 nonconference victory.
Sutton, who had not played since injuring an ankle in the season opener at East Wake, responded with 13 points and savvy floor play, but Hunt of the 3-A Big East Conference was dealt its second loss against three wins.
Head coach Tiffany Parks’ Hunt squad recovered from a 20-5 deficit after one quarter and 17 first-half turnovers to forge a 39-39 tie with a minute and 14 seconds left in the third quarter.
However, East Wake of the Greater Neuse River Conference, behind dandy junior guard Sierra Razor, responded with the next five points and took control in the final quarter to boost its record to 2-2.
“This was more than I expected to do,” Sutton reviewed her outing. “I didn’t think my ankle would let me do it but, the more I played, it came to me and felt better.”
Sutton revealed she suffered a couple of other injuries earlier, but said: “I tried to play through the pain.” She expects to suit up when Hunt visits Farmville Central, the 2018-19 North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A runner-up, on Tuesday evening.
“It feels good (to be back),” Sutton declared. “I missed playing with my teammates.”
Observed Parks: “You can tell she’s had a break.”
Parks added that Sutton not being at 100% and an early injury to senior Bri Tucker handicapped Hunt’s defensive efforts to corral Razor, who turned in a razor-sharp defensive performance. Many of Hunt’s first-half turnovers were caused by either Razor’s steals or by her ability to flick the ball away from Hunt ball-handlers and clog the passing lanes.
Frequently in the first half, Hunt was off to the races in transition and wound up minus the basketball by the time they reached the foul line. In return, East Wake feasted in transition.
Razor also cut the Hunt defense for a game-high 23 points. Kelis Carmer, a 6-foot senior, bucketed 15.
Senior Bria Griffith paced the Hunt offense with 15 points and scrapping senior Dylia Lucas scored eight.
Hunt closed the deficit to 21-14 in the second quarter, but Razor’s 3-pointer started a 7-0 run that led to a 30-21 halftime lead.
Sparked by Sutton and Lucas, Hunt steadily chipped away at East Wake’s lead in the third quarter, trimming the deficit to 36-29, 36-31 and 39-36 before Griffith’s free throw and Lucas’ putback on Griffith’s missed second foul toss resulted in the 39-39 tie.
But East Wake answered with a 3-pointer from senior Makayla Ricks, an over-the-shoulder, running shot flipped by Razor and another Ricks 3-pointer.
East Wake effectively exhausted the clock the last quarter.
“This was a different-paced game from the first time,” Parks noted. “We had miscommunication on defense and were kind of standing around on offense. You can’t set up an offense standing around.
“I was just disappointed with the effort — I don’t understand it. We just didn’t put forth the effort and kind of fell apart when they hit the 3’s.”
Could have been a severe case of Razor-burn.
EAST WAKE (58)
Graham 4, Razor 23, Ayders, Ricks 6, Tayvion 2, Carmen 15, Pulley, Gupton, Nicholson, Manley 8.
Griffith 15, McNeil 3, Smith, Mercer, Haley 6, Tucker, Todman, Sauls 2, McNair, Sutton 13, Lucas 8.
Score by quarters: