WALNUT COVE — South Stokes opened the 2019-20 basketball season by hosting Dalton McMichael High in non-conference action last Friday. The boys’ team squeezed by the Phoenix 56-55 while the girls let a halftime lead slip away in a 55-43 loss.
“I thought we did a good job adjusting throughout the game and putting ourselves in a position to win,” said Sauras’ men coach Jason Clark. “Being the first game of the year and in a very tough back and forth intense game like that will definitely help us moving forward. It will help us handle and manage close games going down the stretch in the fourth quarter.”
Only one point separated the two teams after a quarter of play, with the visitors up 17-16. Elijah Mitchell led the Sauras with six first period points to lead the team.
South only tallied four field goals in the second frame and left seven points on the free-throw line by going 5-for-12 in the period. The Sauras trailed 31-29 at the half despite those missed opportunities.
Junior Carson Stanley gave the Sauras a lift when he nailed three three-pointers from long distance in the third quarter. Senior Ryan Tilley added another to knot the game at 45 with eight minutes to play.
Senior Shemar Dalton game alive in the last period and scored six of his 12 points in the final frame. Mitchell and Daniel Fulk added two points in the quarter and Matthew Montgomery made one-of-two free throws to hold off the Phoenix by one.
“Carson Stanley, Elijah Mitchell, and Landon Parsons all played very well throughout the game and kept us where we needed to be, so we could come out ahead in the end,” Clark said. “We didn’t shoot very well from the free-throw line and that is something we know as a team going forward that we can and will improve on for the next game.”
Dalton led the Sauras with 12 points and Stanley was close behind with 11. Mitchell tallied 10 points in the contest, Tilley eight, and Parsons scored seven. South was 8-for-17 from the free-throw line and the Phoenix’s Gabe Capel led all scorers with 16 points.
The girls’ team let a first-half lead slip away in their loss. South jetted out to a 17-10 advantage after one quarter behind the hot hand of senior Maddie Shore. She drained four three-point shots in the period and tallied 12 points.
The senior connected on another three in the second quarter with Kendal Casper matching her with one of her own. Freshman Nadiya Hairston made her Saura debut with eight first-half points and helped her team cling to a 28-25 advantage at the half.
The Lady Sauras went cold in the third quarter and only tallied six points, while the Phoenix caught fire with 15. Senior Sadie Nester led her team with five points in the period.
McMichael extended its lead in the last quarter with a 15-9 advantage and closed the game with a 12 point victory margin.
Shore led the Sauras with 18 points and Hairston tallied 16 in her first varsity high school game. Nester and fellow senior Hollie Hawkins led McMichael with 16 points each and freshman Faith Robertson added 12 in her debut for the Phoenix.
The Sauras will host the Trinity Bulldogs on Tuesday. The Sauras (0-1) girls will face the Bulldogs (0-1) at 6 p.m. with the boys’ game to follow. The South Stokes boys’ team is 1-0.