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Playing a third game in the last four evenings showed no ill effects on a rampaging Greenfield School varsity boys basketball team that dismantled visiting Neuse Christian of Raleigh 80-35 in the MLK Day Classic tripleheader finale Monday evening in the Greenfield gymnasium.
A defensive wake-up call boosted the Knights of veteran head coach Rob Salter to their 12th consecutive win and to an impressive 22-4 in all games. Greenfield, No. 2-ranked among the state’s North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A teams, welcomes Kerr-Vance Academy at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Neuse Christian of the NCISAA 1-A Mid-Carolina Conference exited 7-11.
In earlier games, Friendship Christian of Raleigh defeated Community Christian, 63-45; and Wayne Country Day turned back Harrells Christian, 76-66.
Greenfield’s transition game kicked in midway the opening quarter and, by the final minute of the third quarter, the lead reached 40 points, prompting enforcement of a continuous scoreboard clock.
The Knights constantly converted steals into transition layups.
“At the beginning, the defense was not great,” Salter contended. I thought we were kind of coasting. I called a time-out and told them: ‘If you don’t play hard, you don’t play.’
“We started playing with a lot more energy. The last five minutes (of the first quarter), we played well, and that continued through the rest of the game.”
Sophomore Justin Holland, who sparkled in a reserve role, added: “We reach too much and that gets us into foul trouble. Tonight defensively, we finally got help side better than we have been doing.”
From a 10-7 edge, the Knights pulled away to a 25-13 cushion when 6-foot-5 junior Trey Pittman finished an assist from junior Creighton Lebo just before the buzzer.
Greenfield drilled in the first 13 points of the second quarter before 6-4 junior Kurtis Taylor finally sank a free throw for the Lions with 2 minutes, 30 seconds showing in the quarter. Holland’s putback at the buzzer staked the Knights to a 45-16 halftime margin. Holland dropped in nine points in the quarter.
Salter explained he elevated Holland from the junior varsity and lauded him for outstanding play the last four games.
“Justin earned it,” Salter said. “He can really shoot the basketball. He has relaxed and calmed down. What I like about him is that he’s tough. He’s done a great job the last four games and can really help us.”
Holland found himself back on the varsity with an injury to 6-5 junior Dji Bailey.
“Coach said I needed to step up,” Holland noted. “I know my role — I just needed to step up. I felt good coming in. I got my confidence back in the Wayne Country Day game (last Friday) and it carried over.”
The continuous clock came into play at 64-23 on 6-7 junior J.T. Foster’s basket with 52 seconds showing in the third quarter. Freshman K.J. Paten provided Greenfield with its largest lead of 70-23 with a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer.
The Knights then mopped up respectably behind sophomore Nathan Woodard, who tossed in eight points. Twelve Greenfield players scored.
“We were making the right decisions with the ball,” Salter reviewed. “When you make the right play with the ball, you score. I love what (junior) Collin (Guilford) did on the floor.”
Outlaw’s 16 points led the Knights. Holland knocked down a career-high 12 points and Lebo netted 11. Pittman managed nine points and six rebounds.
Taylor’s 12 points paced the Lions, while junior Matt Mocnik canned 11.
“We were missing a couple of players,” Taylor noted, “and our shots were not falling. It was not there tonight. Just a bad night.”
NEUSE CHRISTIAN (35)
Teller, Vinson, Taylor 12, C. Mocnik 5, Wilborn, M. Mocnik 11, Bogier 6, Clark 1.
Guilford 7, Lebo 11, Pittman 9, Baker 1, Outlaw 16, Lynch 6, Foster 4, Holland 12, Sessoms 1, Johnson, Woodard 8, Paten 3, Peele 2, Wiggs.
Score by quarters:
Neuse Christian 13 3 7 12 — 35
Greenfield 25 20 25 10 — 80