The “real season” opens in mid-December for the Wilson Christian Academy varsity boys basketball team.
The Chargers of head coach Kevin Zander understand the road to encounters against North Carolina Christian School Association 2-A East Region opponents is going to be tough.
Until then, WCA intends to treat a rugged nonregion schedule as preparation.
The latest assignment came Tuesday night in the Wilson Christian gym against Cary Academy, a member of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 4-A ranks. In their home opener, the WCA Chargers (0-2) dropped a 68-50 outcome against a Cary Chargers team featuring four players at 6-foot-5 or taller.
“I told our guys that our non-conference games are going to be tough,” Zander said. “But I think they are going to make us mentally tougher and keep us motivated. We have to work on the little things. These games are preparing us.”
Then, Lander quipped: “A couple of 6-10 guys would help (Wilson Christian’s tallest player is 6-2).”
Commented junior Briceson Martin: “We use (difficult early games) to get better and stuff. We obviously could have won (Tuesday night). We played good, but we have to play better in the first half.”
A poor second quarter led directly to WCA’s demise. Coach Zander’s squad was outscored 21-7 in the period to fall behind 39-20 at intermission.
Cary turned up the intensity in the second quarter. A busy defense caused WCA turnovers and Cary utilized the talents of 6-10 junior Wayne DeGraff, 6-5 freshman Aiden Rosseau and 6-2 sophomore Chance Gladden.
“We couldn’t handle the pressure,” Martin reviewed. “We started turning the ball over and had to get a time-out to get ourselves together.”
Behind Martin and scrappy senior Turner Provo, WCA climbed out of the 19-point halftime hole to close the deficit to 41-29. WCA again trailed by 12 points at 48-36. But Cary (1-1) didn’t rattle and Rosseau and Gladden gunned Cary to its biggest lead of 56-36.
WCA would not quit and Martin and Provo were again the triggers in Cary’s 56-36 cushion being trimmed to 60-47.
Martin, in his first varsity season, emerged a big Wilson Christian spark with a game-high 21 points and a team-best three assists in his point-guard role. Provo hard-nosed his way to 11 points and five rebounds. Will Clark, who stands 6-2 along with senior Carter Zander, grabbed six rebounds.
“I thought I did good,” Martin assessed his performance. “I was just trying to make the best play.”
To involve more players in the WCA offense, Martin reasoned: “We’ve got to move better off the ball.”
Eighteen points each from Rosseau and Gladden paced the Cary squad of head coach Ishua Benjamin, who played collegiately at North Carolina State. DeGraff stuffed in 14 pointsbefore fouling out. Gladden tossed in 16.
McGraff, Gladden and sophomore McCoy Williams keyed Cary to its 18-13 first-quarter edge after WCA surged to ties of 8-8, 10-10 and 12-12.
“We came out a little slow,” Coach Zander referred to the pivotal second quarter. “Because we came out slow, they were able to dictate on offense a little more than we wanted.
“We played well in the second half. We stopped their second-chance points that killed us in the first half. It was fun to see (Wilson Christian) keep fighting.
“If we turn it up a little bit on defense and continue to do a good job on getting the ball to Martin, we’ll be OK.”
CARY ACADEMY (68)
Gladden 18, McCoy 5, Lando 8, Rousseau 18, DeGraff 14, Boxbaun, Coley, Joof 6, Molner.
WILSON CHRISTIAN (50)
Evans, Trull, Joyner 4, Provo 11, Batts 3, S. Quinn 3, Si. Quinn 5. B. Joyner, Martin 21, Zander 1, Clark 1, Ricks 1.
Score by quarters:
Cary Academy 18 21 15 14 — 68
Wilson Christian 13 7 16 14 — 50