Bryant, Blango lead Rams to 77-75 victory

Havelock’s pair of killer B’s produced a big finish as the Rams avoided an early upset in the state playoffs on Tuesday night.

NyAsia Blango and Aniylah Bryant combined for 40 of Havelock’s 42 second-half points as the 12th-seeded Rams rallied for a 77-75 victory over No. 19 Southern Guilford at Havelock High.

Havelock (23-3) will travel to third-seeded Orange (25-1) for a second-round game Thursday night. Orange defeated West Brunswick 56-39 on Tuesday night.

Blango made 3-of-4 free-throw attempts in the final 45 seconds as the Rams held a 77-73 lead. A layup by Ariyah Wheless with five seconds left cut the margin to 77-75, but without any timeouts, Southern Guilford (15-11) could do nothing but watch as the final seconds ticked off the clock with Havelock not needing to put the ball in play.

Blango and Bryant each had 12 points in the final quarter, with Bryant scoring 33 for the game and Blango finishing with 27.

“They took control,” Spear said. “You’ve got to have a player who wants to take it, and they both wanted to take it. They played like they wanted it.”

With Havelock trailing 55-53 heading into the final quarter, Blango started the period with two 3-pointers and a layup, pushing Havelock to a 61-60 lead with 7:01 left. Bryant then came up with consecutive steals, scoring on a three-point play and a layup as the Rams pushed the advantage to 66-60, capping a 13-5 run with 6:16 left in the game.

Kristen Roberts drew Southern Guilford within 75-73 with a pair of free throws with 39 seconds left, but Blango’s final pair of charities clinched the victory for the Rams, who were 17 of 23 from the free-throw line in the contest.

“We got the ball to the glass, made our foul shots and made a little bit better decisions with the ball,” Spear said. “We knew they were a lot like us – quick, long and athletic – and we didn’t play very good defense tonight. We gave up more points than we have all year.”

Trailing 18-15 after the first quarter, Southern Guilford went deep in the second quarter. Roberts made three consecutive 3-pointers, and the Storm hit six from long range in the period, taking a 42-35 lead at halftime.

“They were on fire,” Spear said.

Roberts and Wheless both scored 27 points to lead Southern Guilford, which made 11 3-pointers in the contest. Coach William Whitaker said “bad calls” by the referees were the difference in the game.

“My team played very well, but when you come down to home cooking, it happens like that,” he said.

Boxscore

S. Guilford 15 27 13 20 –75

Havelock 18 17 18 24 –77

S. Guilford (75) – Kristen Roberts 27, Ariyah Wheless 27, Nokomis Williams 6, Sierra Brown 6, Mari Lewis 4, Kassidy Haith 3, Jasmine Hayes 2.

Havelock (77) – Aniyah Bryant 33, NyAsia Blango 27, Keltsy Hardee 9, Lanavaeh Fisher 5, Isidre DeJesus 3.