Heading into Tuesday’s regular season home finale against Lanier, the South Pike boys knew two things: that they had secured a playoff spot and that it would be their last game of the regular season as the finale at North Pike scheduled for Friday would not happen due to the Jaguars being in Covid-19 quarantine.
However the Eagles lacked consistency and could not capitalize on opportunities as they lost to the Bulldogs 86-40.
“Lanier is a really good team,” South Pike head coach Hilton Harrell said. “We played hard on defense early on, but athleticism played its point.”
Through the first few minutes of the contest, the Eagles (11-8, 4-5) played hard against the Bulldogs and grabbed a 5-4 lead following a 3-pointer from Yajari Jackson. However not long afterward, the wheels fell off for the hosts.
Inconsistency on offense coupled with mistakes did South Pike in as Lanier gathered several steals and loose balls, turning them into fast-break points on the other end.
By the end of the first quarter, South Pike trailed 21-8 and that deficit ballooned to 45-20 by halftime.
Despite trailing badly, the Eagles continued to put forth an effort, but it wasn’t enough to climb back into the ball game.
For the second-consecutive game, Maquis Brown finished as the leading scorer for the Eagles as the junior had 13 points.
Even though his team didn’t get the win to provide a boost heading into the playoffs, Harrell wants to take the extra time from not playing this Friday to prepare for the postseason.
“We definitely need that with the young kids that we have stepping into new positions,” he said. “We need that time to practice.”
S. Pike girls fall in home finale
What started out as a competitive back-and-forth game during the first half, got out of hand in the second for the South Pike girls as they lost momentum in the final two quarters of play, falling to Lanier Tuesday on senior night, 46-25.
“Defensively, I thought that we played really well,” said Harrell, who also coaches the girls team. “Our Achilles heel is that we just have to find a way to score the basketball.”
The defense for the Eagles (7-9, 3-6) held the talented Bulldogs in check for most of the first half while the offense tried to find its footing. South Pike was able to get a 3-point basket from Bre’Miya Cameron on the opening possession but was held without another field goal until the 1:10 mark when Shayla Johnson converted a long-range shot herself.
Going into the second quarter tied at 7, the Eagles were hoping to find more consistency on offense. But both South Pike and Lanier struggled to get into a groove.
The Eagles were limited to just 4 points and the Bulldogs 6. Despite the low output, the hosts still remained within striking distance, finding themselves only down by 2 at the half.
In the second half, the Eagles got a heavy dose of Bulldog center Jamea Smith.
The junior exploded for all 20 of her points in the final two quarters. Smith hurt South Pike not only getting fast-break opportunities but using her height in the paint to impose her will on the Eagle defenders.
Johnson led the Eagles in the contest with nine points.
South Pike will close its season Friday at North Pike.