The Dudley Panthers jumped out to a big lead against their arch-rivals – the Smith Golden Eagles—on Friday, but Smith wasn’t going down without a fight. Although the Lady Golden Eagles fought back from as much as a 20-point deficit, the Lady Panthers were victorious by a score of 56-50.
Smith didn’t score its first basket until five minutes into the first quarter. They trailed 19-6 at the end of one. Dudley received scoring from the entire team to get the early lead.
By halftime, Dudley had increased its lead to 14 as they led 28-14. Panther freshman Diamond Monroe contributed nine of her 15 points in the first half to help Dudley maintain their lead.
Monroe’s coach, girl’s head basketball coach Frank McNeil, knew the freshman was able to perform big on a big stage.
“She’s taking more initiative on the offensive end,” McNeil said. “She’s playing harder, tougher, and that’s something we always knew she could do. She lives for games like this. Big games pump her up and she played extremely well tonight.”
Smith made runs in the third and fourth quarters to narrow the margin, but were unable to retake the lead. The leading scorer in the game, Smith’s Harmony Fletcher, who had 19 points led the attempt at a comeback. DJ Jackson had 17 points, with three big three pointers in the third quarter.
The Panthers were tied with Southwest Guilford for first place in the conference and had earlier flipped a coin to see who would be the conference regular season champions if both teams were victorious in their games on Friday. Southwest Guilford won the toss, and both teams won, making Southwest the regular season Piedmont Triad 3-A conference champions.
“I’m going to quote the great Dean Smith,” McNeil said of the result of the toss. “You control the things you can control and everything else will fall into place. We’re just going to try to control the things we can control and take one game at a time, knowing that this is the time of the year that if you don’t win, you go home.”
The Lady Panthers were victorious by a score of 50-56.
Dudley improves to (18-6) overall and (11-1) in the conference with the victory. They are also (22-1) against Smith since the ’06-’07 season.
Smith falls to (11-11) overall and (6-6) in the conference with the loss.
Harmony Fletcher paced the Golden Eagles and was the leading scorer in the game with 19 points, while Leana Hunt led all Dudley scorers with 18.
Harmony Fletcher: 19 points
DJ Jackson: 17 points
India Sturdivant: 9 points
LeAna Hunt: 18 points
Diamond Monroe: 15 points
Symphony Jackson- 6 points
|Ben L. Smith||6||8||20||16||50|
The Smith Golden Eagles beat the Dudley Panthers by a score of 74-62 in the final game of the regular season on Friday night. The Golden Eagles battled runs from Dudley, but in the end, were victorious in the Piedmont Triad 3-A Conference matchup.
The Panthers got the jump on the Eagles in the first quarter when they snapped to a 17-9 lead. Dudley’s Tim Boulware sparked the Panther offense in the first quarter with four points. Boulware, a senior, continued that high performance throughout the night.
But it was Smith that controlled the second quarter, led by a 25-7 run. The Golden Eagles attacked the basket and made the perimeter shots that they needed to take over the lead and the upper hand.
At halftime, the Golden Eagles led 34-27.
In the third, the two teams battled back and forth, with neither team making huge runs. Camren Hayes was the leading scorer in the third quarter with eight points for the Golden Eagles.
With Smith starting to pull ahead, the Panthers made six spectacular three-pointers in the third quarter to keep them in the game. At the end of the third, the Eagles led by a mere three, 59-53.
To start the fourth quarter, the Golden Eagles’ Isaiah Bigelow scored five points and Silas Mason added two to give the Eagles a key early 7-0 spurt and make the score 64-55. Camren Hayes and Jacob Crutchfield made free-throws at the end of the game as the Panthers fouled to stop the clock; however, it wasn’t enough. The Golden Eagles were victorious by a score of 74-62.
Smith head coach Derrick Partee said he knew that it was a special night at Dudley and that the big stage would motivate the Panthers.
“It was senior night, and rivalry night,” Partee said. “They played really, really tough. They played like they really wanted to win.”
Partee told his team that the secret to this victory would be rebounding.
“I told our guys that if we started rebounding the ball and not giving up offensive rebounds that we would make a run (to get back in the game). Going into the second half our message was to control the boards.
“We don’t really focus on who’s scoring on a particular night because we have six or seven guys who can score the ball.”
So are the Eagles ready for the playoffs?
“Not yet,” Partee said. “We’re almost there. We have to click a little better offensively, but as far as heart, passion, doing all the little things that it takes to win a game, I think we’re ready. I would just like to see us a little better on offense.
Jacob Crutchfield scored 14 points for the Golden Eagles Friday night.
“I think I played really well tonight,” Crutchfield said. “I got a couple of five second calls on defense, helped my team get involved, helped pump them up.”
Crutchfield said his team remained calm when they got down early.
“There wasn’t worry going through our minds. We always stay poised,” he said. “It was up to us rebounding the ball and getting to the boards. We also had to play at our pace because we were playing at their pace early on and that’s not the way we play.”
Crutchfield credited team chemistry for the Golden Eagles success this season.
He also said that he believes that his team is ready for a deep run into the playoffs.
“Our goal is a state championship,” he added.
The Golden Eagles finish the regular season with a record of (21-3) overall and (11-1) in conference play.
The Panthers finish with an overall record of (12-11) and were (4-8) in Piedmont Triad 3-A conference play.
Camren Hayes was the game’s leading scorer with 16 points for the Golden Eagles, and Kevon Wright scored 11 to pace Dudley.
Camren Hayes: 16 points
Jacob Crutchfield: 14 points
Isaiah Bigelow: 13 points
Jaylan Gainey: 7 points
Darrien Wynn: 11 points
Kevon Wright: 8 points
Tim Boulware: 8 points
Cameron Thomas: 8 points
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Ben L. Smith 9 25 23 17 74
Dudley 17 10 26 9 62