Trojans trip Bengals, 58-47
Since struggling at Greensboro Day two-and-a-half weeks ago, the Wesleyan Christian boys have been looking forward to the rematch.
This time, they didn’t disappoint.
The No. 2 Trojans used a strong second-half effort to pull away from the No. 1 Bengals down the stretch and win 58-47 in front of a packed house at Wesleyan on Tuesday night.
“We wanted to get them again because we didn’t give our best effort over there,” Trojans coach Keith Gatlin said. “We fought hard and came out with the win. ... We played good defense. We defended the ball and attacked the rim. If you do that, good things will happen every night.
“We were very disappointed (in losing at Greensboro Day). We got out-rebounded and we didn’t give our best. That was unacceptable. And we wanted to make sure we come out and play with passion and play with effort.”
Theo Pinson scored 18 points, including 11 of 12 from the foul line, while Donovan Gilmore had 11 and Trey Chapman added eight to lead Wesleyan (19-5, 5-1 PACIS 3A), which outscored Greensboro Day 24-11 over the final 11 minutes.
“It was energy level, effort — what we lacked last time,” Pinson said. “They just worked way harder than we did. We dominated the boards this game, and I think that was the key. Right after that game, we had a film session and it was like: There’s no way we should’ve lost that game.
“We just decided to play hard, rebound the ball and have better effort and we’ll win. ... We’ve been playing really well in the second half the last month. So, we just knew that if we keep playing hard, we’ve got the crowd on our side and we’re going to win.”
The Trojans led 28-27 at halftime before falling behind 36-34 with 4:22 left. They then scored the final eight points of the quarter — keyed by back-to-back buckets by Chapman — to lead 42-36 heading to the fourth.
After the Bengals (30-2, 5-1 PACIS) cut it to two, Wesleyan, which was badly outrebounded in the teams’ previous matchup but improved this game, answered with five straight points to spark a 12-3 run to lead 54-43 with 1:26 remaining and sealed the win at the foul line.
“We didn’t want to settle for jump shots,” Gatlin said. “We wanted to attack, attack, attack — put them on their heels. You’ve got to make a team like that defend you. They can bait you into taking bad shots. We took bad shots over there and we got beat.”
Greensboro Day, which suffered its first loss of the season Friday against No. 3 Christ School, was led by Christian Hairston with 10 points, Bryan Rouse with nine and Reggie Dillard with eight.
“You’ve got to finish. You’ve got to convert,” Bengals coach Freddy Johnson said. “You’ve got (Wesleyan guard JaQuel) Richmond on the bench (with foul trouble). You’ve got exactly what you need up 36-34, but you’ve got to finish it off. We missed four free throws and I don’t we scored a basket for the rest of the quarter. ...
“Our ultimate goal is to win a state championship. We’re tied for the conference championship right now. You want to finish one or two in the conference, that way you can be a top-3 seed. So, that’s the goal. I just don’t want High Point Christian, us and Wesleyan all on the same side of the bracket like last year,” he said with a laugh.
The Trojans play again at home Friday against Forsyth Country Day.
In the girls game, No. 2 Greensboro Day scored 15 straight points to close the first quarter and cruised to a 61-15 win Tuesday against host Wesleyan Christian.
Jessica Williard scored seven points to lead the Trojans, who trailed 35-8 at halftime. Ronata Rogers scored 18 points, followed by Caroline Sherwood with 16 and Tamara Thorpe with 12 to lead the Bengals.