The Warren East boys’ basketball team caught fire Friday night and put a recent cold spell to rest.
The Raiders (16-5, 4-1 District 14) made 13 3-pointers against Greenwood, including eight in the first half, and pulled away with a big second-half run for an 82-57 win at WEHS.
“It’s the grind of a season,” WEHS coach Casey Simpson said. “We hadn’t shot the ball well in probably three weeks, like we know we can. We guarded pretty well in the second half, but you hear it at every level – you just enjoy playing at home, and we played pretty well tonight.”
This was the fourth time this season that Warren East has scored at least 80 points, but the first time since Dec. 21.
The Raiders had lost three of their last five coming into Friday’s game after starting 13-2. They’re in the middle of a five-game homestand after playing 12 straight games away from home in a span of more than a month.
Home was good to the Raiders on Friday, as they made eight of 12 3-pointers in the first half and put the game out of reach with a 24-0 run into the fourth quarter.
“We came out and had to hit our 3s,” said junior forward Mason Lee, who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. “We played team ball, and our teammates found us open. It’s been a good relief. We’ve been in a big slump, all our shooters.”
Lee was one of five Raiders who knocked down multiple 3s, as well as one of seven Raiders to score at least eight points.
Warren East finished 13 of 22 from behind the arc.
“It becomes contagious, not only making shots, but also cheering for each other,” Simpson said. “It comes down to guys finding each other. It’s hard to make a shot if a guy’s not willing to give up a contested shot or set a screen.”
Warren East opened a 17-8 lead in the first quarter with a 3-pointer by senior guard Max Wheeler, but Greenwood (8-10, 0-5) started the second on a 10-3 run to pull within 20-18 at the 4:57 mark.
Lee fired right back with another 3-pointer, and the Raiders added three more before the break, including senior guard Chase Bryant’s banked-in, half-court heave at the buzzer to give WEHS a 39-28 halftime advantage.
The Raiders’ usual suspects went cold in the third quarter, but junior guard Brandon Walker stepped up by scoring 11 of his 14 points in the frame, including three 3s.
“My teammates fell back a little bit,” Walker said. “I had to step up and do what they were doing in the first half and make it happen.”
After Greenwood climbed within 52-45 with 2:08 left in the third, Warren East scored the final eight points of the quarter and turned it into a 24-0 burst in the fourth.
The Gators didn’t score again until a bucket by sophomore guard Trevor Stockton with 3:14 remaining that made it 76-47.
Sophomore guard Alex Schneller paced Greenwood with 14 points, while Stockton and junior guard Dylan Dewitt each added nine.
Junior forward Aron Strange finished with 10 points for Warren East, and senior forward J.J. Chatman had eight points and nine boards. The Raiders outrebounded GHS 43-17.
Warren East hosts Cumberland County at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by a showdown Friday against district leader Warren Central at home. The Raiders are a half-game back of the Dragons (16-5, 5-1) in the standings.
“We’re going to try to control our own destiny and take care of ourselves in-house,” Simpson said. “You can’t get overwhelmed with this thing. We feel fortunate to be involved in the conversation.”
Greenwood plays at 6:30 p.m. today at Cumberland County.
GHS 8 20 17 12 – 57
WEHS 17 22 21 22 – 82
GHS – Schneller 14, Stockton 9, Dewitt 9, Bradley 7, Hasanovic 7, Lewis 6, Dean 3, Sewell 2.
WEHS – Lee 17, Walker 14, Strange 10, Brown 9, Wheeler 9, Bryant 9, Chatman 8, Stockton 2, Whitney 2, Jones 2.
Greenwood 59, Warren East 47 (girls)
The Lady Gators (12-9, 2-3) got a lift from a trio of senior guards to remain in fourth place in the district standings.
Angela Adkins, Sarah Jordan and Taylor Tolbert combined to score 40 points, including 14 apiece from Adkins and Jordan.
“We’ve really been trying to work in practice and improve,” Adkins said. “We knew we had to step it up tonight if we wanted to get it done.”
Adkins, who didn’t play Jan. 11 in Greenwood’s 64-57 home win over Warren East because of a concussion, added 11 rebounds as GHS forced 32 turnovers to overcome being outrebounded 54-32.
“Angela did a good job of running the offense,” Greenwood coach Todd Tolbert said. “She took advantage of some opportunities and drove it to the basket a few times. Taylor did a good job finishing some out-of-bounds plays, and Sarah stepped up and gave us some nice outside shots when we weren’t very offensively efficient.”
The Lady Gators pushed their lead to 19-8 at the 5:46 mark of the second quarter, but Warren East (4-19, 0-5) responded with an 11-2 run, including senior forward Justice Martin’s first nine points of the game. Her layup with 2:01 left before the break brought WEHS within 21-19.
But Greenwood scored eight of the final 10 points of the half, and junior forward Lauren Maupin’s putback with three seconds to play made it 29-21 at the break.
The Lady Gators netted eight free throws and forced 15 Warren East turnovers in the first half.
Warren East didn’t come closer than seven points in the second half. Martin’s putback made it 49-42 with 2:25 to play, but Jordan followed with a 3 to stretch the lead.
Maupin finished with six points and eight rebounds but was three of 16 from the field.
“Lauren had an off night, and everybody has one,” Todd Tolbert said. “But part of that was that (Warren East) coach (Aaron) Richmond did a good job. Justice was very physical with Lauren, and it made it difficult for her. But that was a good thing for us to see so we can learn to adjust down the road.”
Junior forward Jill Renfro had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Raiders, who had three players grab at least nine boards.
Martin finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore Brook Gilbert added seven points and 10 rebounds.
“Our rebounding isn’t the best right now,” Adkins said. “But we knew we had to keep Justice off the boards. Their other guards crashed the boards, and that was one of the things we wanted to do coming in. We didn’t execute it, and we can definitely improve.”
Greenwood plays at 5 p.m. today at Cumberland County. Warren East, which had won two of its last three coming into Friday, hosts CCHS at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
GHS 11 18 12 18 – 59
WEHS 6 15 11 15 – 47
GHS – Adkins 14, Jordan 14, Tolbert 12, Maupin 6, Daniel 6, Meador 4, Douglas 2, James 1.
WEHS – Renfro 16, Justice Martin 13, Gilbert 7, Bibb 4, Enriquez 3, Houchins 2, Young 2.