The two teams played earlier this month with the same outcome, but it was an entirely different game with B.B. Comer winning 64-37.
Fayetteville head coach Grant Maddox said his approach to attack inside was important to the team playing Comer closer this time around.
“We had a small little practice this afternoon before we came up here,” Maddox said. “I just wanted to spread the court out a little bit. I knew Comer would run some zone against us. They did it last time. I wanted to spread it out real quick to the point where we could get the ball inside to try to penetrate back and forth and get open shots outside. Sometimes it happened pretty good, but we missed a lot of easy shots on the basket, but that was my main point tonight: to try to get the ball as inside as possible, that way we could dish out and get an open three if possible.”
Fayetteville actually started out by building a 7-3 lead highlighted by a fast break layup by C.J. Townsend.
Then, Comer went on a 10-0 run to close out the first quarter and take the lead 13-7.
Keonte Murphy paced the Tigers with five straight points during the run.
After Fayetteville cut the lead to 13-11, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run in which Darius Hale made an opportunistic steal and capitalized with an easy layup.
Fayetteville battled back cutting the lead to 26-24 on an inside basket by Justin Lawson.
Comer closed out the half with an 8-3 run, making two 3-points shots to build their lead to 34-27.
Comer’s Darius Hale sank two free throws to build the lead to 38-29, but Fayetteville’s Cedric Lykes hit a huge 3-point shot before the game got out of hand.
Townsend followed up with a 3-pointer to inch Fayetteville closer with the score at 40-36.
At that point, Comer went on a 12-6 run to build a double-digit lead of 52-42.
Comer head coach Carson Grier said his frontcourt players stepped up when they had to.
“We played pretty good defense,” Grier said. “We didn’t play as well as we have at times. We’re not very tall. We’ve got some taller kids, but they’re very thin kids. We don’t have a lot of thickness to our team. Our guard play was a little down tonight and our guard play has really been our strength. But tonight, our post played a lot better, especially Malik Burns. He had a good game at times. Tyler Jackson did at times, Tyler Holmes and Keonte Murphy. Different people in the post had moments tonight.”
Zach McGrady scored nine fourth quarter points to keep Fayetteville in the game, including a two-point shot that cut the lead to 56-51.
But that was as close as the Wolves would come down the stretch. Darius Hale was four for six on free throws in the closing minutes to help his maintain their lead and win by a final of 63-55.
Hale finished the game as his team’s leading scorer with 15 total points, including nine of 14 on free throws. Keonte Murphy had 12 points and Malik Burns contributed 10 points.
For Fayetteville, Zach McGrady was the game’s leading scorer with 16 points while C.J. Townsend continued to do well, finishing with 14 points. Justin Lawson had a double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Maddox said he is focused on working on improving Fayetteville’s defense for right now.
“I changed the defense up a little bit,” he said. “We went over some drills a little bit before the game and I kind of just talked to them before the game, just how important defense is. I told them offense is not a priority to me right now. Defense wins games. I said defense is the main thing. The better defense you play, the better chance you’ll have of winning. I told them I’m not worried about offense. I’m worried about how well you play defense and how well you can stop them from scoring. That was my main speech to them tonight.”
Grier noted the youth of both teams, noting the return of Zach McGrady, a senior will help Fayetteville continue to get better.
“Fayetteville is consistently improving,” he said. “They’ve gotten a lot better every game. Getting McGrady back off the injured list is a big thing for them. He’s a good basketball player that makes shots and makes plays and he’s a senior. He’s an older kid. My team is very young. It’s the youngest team I’ve ever thought about putting on the basketball court as a varsity team. We start a ninth grader and at times three 10th graders. At times, you have four 10th graders on the court and a ninth grader. It’s a very young team. Nine out of the 13 will be back next year. So, we’ve got a large number coming back, so I have to be patient as a coach and keep working because they’re going to have good nights and bad nights as young players and you just have to keep working through the issues and teaching them about different parts of the game. Like in the fourth quarter, calm down, run the clock out. You’re ahead. Because in their mind, they’re still trying to score that’s the youth in them. But they won a game tired. That’s important.”