Haden Spurgeon was dribbling the ball some 60 feet from the basket, but he was still a threat. Not to shoot, of course. No, Red Bank’s guard was scanning the floor for a teammate running free downcourt. That teammate was none other than Nick Smith, a great passer in his own right who was now in the position to put in a few points of his own. From behind the halfcourt line, Spurgeon lasered a pinpoint bounce pass past the defense that hit Smith right in the hands.
A few milliseconds later, Spurgeon had an assist, Smith got another two in the scoring column, and Red Bank added to what would eventually be a 79-36 win over Sale Creek.
“Something we have to do with this group is create turnovers and get out in transition,” coach Red Bank Nick Fike said. “Giving these young guys some playing time and building depth (before the football players join the team) is very important to us.”
Red Bank jumped out to a 22-6 first quarter lead thanks to some hellish full court pressure. Spurgeon and Kris Clay led the charge as the two guards asked to trap Sale Creek’s ball handlers in the backcourt. Kendrick Lloyd was often the beneficiary of these turnovers (and his own hustle) and scored eight points in the first eight minutes.
After stealing the ball, the Lions would often break into an open court attack spearheaded by Smith. The flashy guard showed some nifty moves later in the quarter when he dribbled behind his back on the fastbreak to evade defenders before firing a pass to Lloyd for the layup and a 11-0 lead.
“Nick’s court vision is really good,” coach Fike said. “Sometimes he may think too much (about making a difficult pass,) but he sees the floor really well.”
After the girls team seemed to be automatic from the field, the boys from Sale Creek had a much more difficult time finding offense. Their best highlight did not count but was worth revisiting. Zach Howard held the ball with a second left and was being smothered by a defender. The deadeye shooter pivoted and leaned to his left around the defender’s body, and connected on a marvelous 30 foot shot at the buzzer. The referees ruled the ball was still in his hands when the red light went off though.
Red Bank continued to run away with things in a second quarter where they rolled up 33 points. Bigman Eric Alex's hands were like a magnet when it came to grabbing the ball in traffic. He earned Red Bank countless second chances with his tenacity on the offensive boards. His teammates also rewarded the big fella with plenty of opportunities as a rim-runner. Alex looked very comfortable elevating over the Panthers front line and finishing layups at the rim.
Red Bank’s other impressive players were Kalen Sewell and Javanta Johnson. Johnson exploded in the last few minutes of the half. He started as a marksman, hitting a couple of long-range buckets off the catch. He then got involved in Red Bank’s pressure defense and strolled in for a pair of layups after the Lions forced a steal.
The Lions went into halftime with an insurmountable 55-18 lead, and the Lions kept the pressure on in the second half. Sale Creek had a few shining moments, such as when Lucas Mathis shook free on the baseline for a floating midrange shot. But for the most part, the Lions controlled the action in the Tuesday rout.
Even though the second half was the epitome of “garbage time,” the old-school post moves employed by Jaylen Bates were anything but trash. He wheeled and spun and ducked and shouldered his way to three impressive buckets in the third quarter, including an and-one make that hyped up his bench and the Red Bank supporters in attendance.
“He’s one that we have to continue to feed, and he got in foul trouble by picking up three quick fouls in the first half,” coach Fike said. “We wanted to get him the ball inside in the second half, because you saw what he could do.”
Sale Creek Girls 73, Red Bank 3
Shelby Defore started the Sale Creek fastbreak with a quick outlet to Kayla Phillips, a pass that was thrown a touch too far. Phillips had to sprint after it, and threw the ball back into play as she fell out of bounds. The pass went into the hands of Keilyn Morgan, who led all scorers with 16 points. She slashed to the rim and finished with her right hand against a Red Bank team that was outgunned by a bigger and faster Sale Creek squad 73-3.
Aside from Morgan, no other Panther made it into double-digits. But it was truly a team effort, with all 12 players for Sale Creek scoring at least two points against Red Bank. They harassed the Lions into turnovers, and popped the ball all over the court with sublime passes whenever the Panthers had possession.
Sale Creek went into halftime up 50-0, and there was a running clock for the rest of the second half. The Lions scored their only basket early in the third. Brooklyn Ervin put in the bucket, and Jocelyn Guzman canned a fourth quarter free throw for the Lions’ only points. Kya and Kenzi Escobar both scored eight to tie as the second-leading scorers for the Panthers.
RED BANK 0 0 2 1 – 3
SALE CREEK 32 18 13 10 – 73
RED BANK (3) – Ervin 2, Guzman 1, Brown, Francisco, Swaggerty, Culpepper, Wade, Aguilar, Stoudemire.
SALE CREEK (73) – Keilyn Morgan 16, Williams 5, Phillips 5, Smith 4, Osborne 6, Curtis 2, Welch 6, Hope Defore 5, Kenzi Escobar 8, Kya Escobar 8, McCarter 2, Shelby Defore 6
3-POINT GOALS: Red Bank 0 (); Sale Creek 1 (Phillips 1).
RED BANK 22 33 19 05 – 79
SALE CREEK 6 12 10 8 – 36
RED BANK (79) – Kris Clay 10, Spurgeon 7, Nick Smith 10 Javanta Johnson 10, Kendrick Lloyd 12, Kalen Sewell 11, Bonner, Eric Alex 10, Johnson 2, Bates 7.
SALE CREEK (36) – Moore 9, Mathis 3, Ellis 3, Wilson 4, Billingsley 1, McGlocklin 2, Howard 8, DeLorenzo 3, Miles 3.
3-POINT GOALS: Red Bank 8 (Clay 2, Smith 2, Johnson 2, Sewell, Spurgeon); Sale Creek 2 (Ellis, Miles).
Do you have an opinion on this article, or have a story you believe needs coverage? You can contact the author at Joseph.A.Dycus@gmail.com or on Twitter at @joseph_dycus.