Jan. 14—FAYETTEVILLE — The Lumberton boys basketball team's defensive game plan Friday at Seventy-First was to "push it inside out," attempting to take away the Falcons' frontcourt strength and force them to make perimeter shots, which they hadn't done much all season.
The Falcons did take a lot of 3s against the Pirates. They made a lot of them too.
Seventy-First knocked down 10 triples, building a double-digit lead in the first quarter which it never relinquished in a 75-54 win over the Pirates to move into first place outright in the United-8 Conference.
"I let our guys know, if they're going to beat us, they're going to beat us from the perimeter," Lumberton coach Bryant Edwards said. "They're averaging less than two 3-pointer makes per game; they made 10 tonight."
Seventy-First also held a 17-4 offensive rebounding advantage, while Lumberton committed 14 turnovers to the Falcons' nine.
Lumberton (12-2, 5-1 United-8) led 7-6 in the early minutes after a 3 by Jaiden Shephard before Seventy-First (13-1, 6-0 United-8) took the lead with a Randy Dockery basket. On the Falcons' next possession, Jakoi Hassell open the floodgates from beyond the arc. Shawn Barber and Dockery hit 3s before the quarter was out, and Seventy-First finished the period on an 18-5 run to take a 24-12 lead.
Three of the Falcons' five second-quarter makes were also from distance, with Barber and Dockery finding nylon again along with Deondre Nance. Lumberton twice closed to within 10 in the second quarter, but an 8-2 stretch to finish the half gave Seventy-First a 37-21 lead at the break.
The Pirates' best chance to get back into the game came in the third quarter when they held a 14-6 advantage over the first five minutes after halftime, with six points from Tre Lewis and four from J.B. Brockington in the span. But Nance and Dockery responded with more 3s for the Falcons, who took a 53-38 lead to the fourth.
"They made big shots when it counted," Edwards said. "Whenever we'd get two or three stops in a row and cut the lead to 10, all of a sudden they'd make one or two baskets and they'd extend the lead back out. ... They were the most polished team tonight, they were the tougher team tonight, they were the better team tonight, all the way around."
Lumberton never got closer than a 12-point deficit in the fourth. Seventy-First scored the last nine points of the game to extend the final margin to 21.
In addition to its perimeter-shooting performance, Seventy-First got 24 points from frontcourt star Jared Davis. Dockery scored 16, Hassell had 11 and Barber netted eight.
Lewis and Shephard each scored 14 points to lead Lumberton, Brockington had 13 and Jacob Hammonds had nine.
The teams split last season's regular-season meetings before the Falcons beat the Pirates in the United-8 Tournament championship; Seventy-First went on to the 3A East Regional championship. The teams meet again in Lumberton on Feb. 7, the second-to-last game of the regular season, a game that could potentially have major conference title implications.
"They just produced better than we did," Edwards said. "When it comes to here forward, we can't have a slip up. We don't have any leeway from here on out and we've got to take care of business one game at a time, focus one game at a time, everybody in our conference, and whenever we match up with them again hopefully it'll be a different outcome."
Lumberton will play at Red Springs at 8 p.m. Saturday as the nightcap in the Red Devils' MLK Classic event.
Lady Pirates' defense smothers Falcons
In its best defensive showing of the season, the Lumberton girls basketball team allowed just five field goals over the first three quarters Friday to earn a 59-27 win at Seventy-First.
"We still have a long way to go, but I'm really pleased with the energy and effort they've put in on the defensive side of the ball, in practice and games," Lumberton coach Ivy Johnson said. "What they do in practice is coming to light. They've just got to keep working hard, and believing in defense."
Lumberton (4-8, 3-3 United-8), which improved to an even record in conference play, led 10-4 after the opening quarter and 19-10 at half. Seventy-First (3-10, 1-5 United-8) was held to three field goals in the first half as no Falcon besides Mariyah Massey scored.
While the Pirates defense continued its strong pace in the third quarter, allowing two field goals in a five-point period for the Falcons, the Lumberton offense picked up some steam out of the halftime break, scoring 21 points in the third quarter to take a 40-15 lead entering the fourth.
"It builds the confidence when you play defense; a lot of good things come from defense, not just easy points," Johnson said. "Offensively, we found our rhythm, we were very unselfish and we made the extra pass a lot of times."
Carly Hammonds scored 19 points to lead the Pirates, Gabby Locklear had 11 and Andrea Brown, La'Kayia Hunt and Florence Ferguson each scored six.
Massey scored 10 points, all in the first half, and Na'Zja Bonner Steward scored nine, all in the second half, for the Falcons, who had won the previous five meetings.
The Falcons' 27 points was the least by Pirates opponent this season, one less than the previous mark of 28 by Gray's Creek on Jan. 6.
Lumberton's girls play next on Tuesday at home against Purnell Swett.
Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.