Trojans stave off Dudley
For three quarters, Dudley was poised for the upset. Then, down the stretch, the Wesleyan Christian Academy boys ground out a win, like the best teams in the country do.
The Trojans trailed all but the earliest moments of the game, falling behind 10 at halftime, before finally taking over late in the game to stave off the Panthers 65-56 on Monday in the 11th annual MLK Day North Carolina Scholastic Classic at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“We showed more energy in the second half,” Wesleyan coach Keith Gatlin said. “We had to fight. It was ugly. But it’s a win, so we’ll take it. We had a good video session yesterday. We see our mistakes and we just have to get better.
“Dudley played well (in the first half), and we didn’t make shots. … But Donovan (Gilmore) played great, Harry (Giles) played his usual. We’re getting there, but we have to understand that when we step on the court, we have to play hard all the time.”
After a poor-shooting first half, the Trojans (14-5), No. 2 in last week’s NCISAA 3A rankings, scored the first eight points of the second half to pull within 30-28 with 5:55 left in the third and got as close as one in the closing seconds before heading to the fourth down 45-42.
Wesleyan then scored seven of the first nine points of the fourth — keyed by back-to-back buckets by Gilmore — to lead 51-47 with 5:15 left. Dunks by Gilmore and Giles stretched the lead to five, as Dudley stayed within striking distance until the final 30 seconds.
“We had a big meeting yesterday, and I spoke and said that we have to be resilient,” said Gilmore, a junior forward. “Being resilient is the key. A lot of teams come out hard against us; we take everyone’s hardest punch. It was just being resilient and having the will to win. ...
“We used our size — we had a size advantage. Harry Giles and I, we had a good second half. First half was very frustrating. We knew we were better than that team. We had size, and on paper we were way better than them. Second half, we showed it.”
Gilmore finished with 18 points while Theo Pinson, who was, presumably, being watched by North Carolina coach Roy Williams, had 13 points and Giles and JaQuel Richmond each followed with 11 points. Sam Hunt had 27 to lead the Panthers (9-6).
Dudley, which attacked the basket well in the first half and took advantage of the Trojans’ many misses, used a six-point spurt in the first quarter to lead by eight and then stretched it to 12 midway through the second before heading into halftime with a 30-20 lead.
“They’re hurting,” said Panthers coach Brian Seagraves, who coached at T.W. Andrews last year, of his team. “The same thing happened against Mount Tabor. We had the lead at the half and had those guys down, and they came back for whatever reason.
“But it hurts — it hurts me a lot because I really thought we could get ‘em. I told our guys I wouldn’t schedule the game if I didn’t think we could get ‘em. But that’s a nonconference game against one of the best teams in the country. So, I am happy with our overall game.”
The Trojans return to PACIS 3A play today at home against Calvary Baptist.