Firebirds fall to Hunt in Big East opener
Jimmy Lewis | Restoration NewsMedia
Hunt's J'Nahjae Carmon (11) tries to get past Southern Nash's Jordan Vick off the dribble during Tuesday's game at Hunt. The Warriors won 58-46.
WILSON — For a team with just one practice to its name in over a week, the Hunt High varsity boys basketball team put enough plays together to win its delayed 3-A Big East Conference opener Tuesday night at home against Southern Nash.
The decisive factor? Nothing more than simple effort. The host Warriors exhibited it, while the Firebirds found themselves lacking in that particular endeavor.
While the Firebirds briefly made it an eight-point game in the fourth quarter, the Warriors utilized the contributions of senior Blaize Keen and juniors C.J. Joyner and Davon McKayhan, parlaying a height advantage inside to a 58-46 victory.
Hunt, playing its first game in 13 days following a COVID-19 quarantine affecting all three Wilson County Schools boys teams, improved to 2-1. Southern Nash, which had its entire nonconference schedule scrubbed due to a district mandate, dipped to 1-2, all in Big East games.
“I told them before the game, that’s all we can ask for,” Hunt head coach Maurice Williams said. “We didn’t have but one day of practice (Monday). I’m trying to rotate in, sub, use all my timeouts. Then, we’ve got to play tomorrow, too. It is what it is, but the guys put the effort. I just told them to go home and rest, and we’ve got to do it again tomorrow.”
Southern Nash led for the final time in the second quarter on a free throw from senior Darin Bailey to lead 16-15. However, it was here that the visitors began to unravel. Keen, who led Hunt with 19 points, came down and hit a 3-pointer to put his team in front before Joyner got inside and put away back-to-back layups for a 22-16 advantage.
Then, Southern Nash freshman Jordan Vick was hit with a pair of fouls simultaneously — one personal foul in the backcourt and a technical following his reaction to the whistle. The assessment was swift and almost instantaneous and sent the Greenfield School transfer to the bench for the final 86 seconds of the half.
Hunt junior Lucas Robinson made three of the four resulting free throws, and the Warriors took a 27-19 lead into halftime.
“He said he didn’t like the way he showed his emotion,” Kennedy said of the official’s explanation. “And their kid did it three times, and it was a different official. We can’t blame the officials. Every time the game got close, we just had defensive lapses. It was just a very poor effort on our end.”
The Warriors opened the second half several steps quicker than the Firebirds, using a Jeremiah Williams putback, a floater by J’Nahjae Carmon, McKayhan’s layup and Keen’s steal followed by a layup.
That boosted Hunt to a commanding 16-point lead, and Southern Nash could only halve it before the final buzzer. Hunt had the potential to expand the margin further, but made just half of its 36 free throws. Conversely, Southern Nash ended up 10 for 22.
“I think we played good,” Joyner said. “We missed some free throws, but overall, we played better than the last two games coming back from the quarantine that we had to do. It was kind of tiring. We might have been a little out of shape, but not too much because we only had one practice before this.”
Hunt’s 2-3 zone turned the Firebirds, by and large, into a collection of jump shooters. Joyner, who had eight of his 12 points in the second quarter, finished twice inside during the third period to help re-establish a 16-point lead for Hunt.
Leading 43-31 after three quarters, Hunt saw the Firebirds trim the lead to eight twice. After junior Jackson Vick’s layup made it 50-42, Keen took over with his dribble penetration. Keen’s personal 6-0 run via two runners and a pair of free throws made it 56-42, and the Warriors never led by less than double digits again.
“Blaize is the key for us offensively on the wing,” Williams said. “They have to worry about him. So if they’re worrying about him, that’s going to leave C.J. or Davon or Jeremiah down low matching up with everybody else. And that’s kind of what we’re hoping for. We’re looking for that.”
Jordan Vick led the Firebirds with 14 points. Junior T.J. Taybron added 10 for Southern Nash in an outcome that required no questions or prompts for Kennedy.
“We didn’t show up,” Kennedy said. “We played just like we practiced yesterday. We played with no effort, no heart. We didn’t communicate and we played selfish. We lost by 12, and we might as well not even have got on the bus. It was a very embarrassing effort on our end.”
Meanwhile, Hunt kept its poise.
“The guys didn’t lose their composure,” Williams said. “I told them it was all about that.”
SOUTHERN NASH (46)
Bailey 3, Pearce 2, Gordon 2, Jo. Vick 14, Taybron 10, Royal 7, Ja. Vick 6, Baker 2.
Williams 2, Keen 19, McKayhan 9, Williams 6, Carmon 5, Robinson 3, Stokes 2, Joyner 12.
Score by quarters:
Southern Nash 9 10 14 13 — 46
Hunt 8 19 16 15 — 58
Ladybirds rally past Fike to keep Big East streak intact
WILSON — Standing just nine outs away from seeing its 23-game winning streak against 3-A Big East Co...
Nash youth soccer scores announced
Nash County Recreation & Senior Services has announced soccer scores for games played on April 12. ...
Firebirds flatten Franklinton, end season on winning note
FRANKLINTON — A season ending well before Southern Nash players, coaches and fans’ expectations conc...
Wilson man dies in Nash County crash
A Wilson man died in a single-car wreck on Interstate 95 in southern Nash County’s Coopers community...
Tobacco planting and dirt-road racing
At last, I’m not tracking through yellow pollen on the porch. Even though there is still some hangin...
Prisons' pandemic resilience paying off
It’s been a year since the pandemic first hit our state prison system. We’ve endured an awful year o...