Everybody has heard the age-old sports adage – “defense wins championships.”
While it wasn’t a championship that defense won Tuesday for the Havelock Rams, but it did lead them to a 65-60 Coastal 3A Conference victory over West Carteret at Havelock High.
The Rams trailed 39-27 at halftime, and nothing seemed to be going in their favor.
Just after the break, Havelock head coach Bill Fryczynski inserted the Cuthbertson twins, Julian and Jordan, to wrench up the defensive pressure.
The twins once again provided their trademark toughness and hounding “D” to bring the Rams back into the game and give fans a nail-biter down the stretch.
“We thought we were quicker than them and that we could get out there and tire them out,” Julian Cuthbertson said.
The heightened pressure disrupted the visiting Patriots and forced them into numerous mistakes, on which Havelock capitalized.
“We thought they had some weak ball-handlers and we knew we could get the ball from them with pressure and force some turnovers,” Jordan Cuthbertson said.
Fryczynski’s Rams overcame a fierce shooting output from the Patriots, as West Carteret made eight 3-pointers in the first half.
“It was a gutsy win for these guys because our energy just simply was not there in that first half,” Fryczynski said. “They (West Carteret) were nailing threes and we had to go to man-to-man out of necessity like we did against Jacksonville. The twins came in and did what they do. They were game-changers tonight.”
Havelock’s Matt Prichard also was clutch with a huge block with less than a minute to go, saving a layup.
Senior David Carter sank two critical fourth-quarter treys to help secure the victory.
“I knew we needed the points and their defense was backing off me and I had wide-open shots, so when I saw them back off, I just took it,” Carter said.
Rams’ star guard Zack Bruns was held to a measly three points in the first half, but poured in 18 second-half points, including the clinching free throws with five seconds left. Bruns now needs 72 points to eclipse 1,000 for his career.
West Carteret 34
Havelock guard Natalie Johnson is more known for her soccer prowess than her abilities on the hardwood, but on Tuesday, she put on a show.
Johnson scored 16 points, a career high, to lead Havelock to a 61-34 victory over West Carteret.
“I think my biggest thing tonight was that I wasn’t overthinking things or questioning my shots like I do sometimes,” Johnson said. “We started a little slow tonight, but then were able to shoot better and stepped up our defense in the second half.”
Kierra Fleming came up with 11 rebounds and Shakina Dyer added nine, in addition to scoring nine points apiece, as the Rams beat the Patriots on the boards 40-32.
“We had some good spells and some ugly spells tonight,” Havelock coach Anna Spear said. “We still are having too many turnovers and had 13 missed layups, but it helps to be big on the boards and we’ve been able to do that all year long.”
Apriel Barrette scored eight points, had five steals, dished out four assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Havelock is back in action Friday at White Oak.
Havelock (65) – Zack Bruns 21, David Carter 13, Pharoh Cooper 13, Matt Prichard 12, Shondel Granison 4, Maurice Harris 2, Will Blythe, Kyran Bowman, Matt Boykin, A.J. Coplon, Jordan Cuthbertson, Julian Cuthbertson, Mike Richards.
West Carteret (60) – Jo Jo Grant 17, Nathan Windley 14, Jason Dudley 10, Khaliq Spencer 6, Dylan Carpenter 4, Eli Blake 3, Chase Carraway 3, Anthony Windley 3.
Havelock (61) – Natalie Johnson 16, Shakina Dyer 9, Kierra Fleming 9, Apriel Barrette 8, Jalisa Wilson 7, Alaya Fenderson 6, Shaolin McKinley 4, Vanessa Coyne 2, Alicia Bess, Iesha Cooper.
West Carteret (34) – Colleen Taylor 13, Blair Pearce 10, Shalaunte Johnson 3, Hunter Carter 2, Hannah Erickson 2, Jayde Grant 2, Tyana Morris 2, Katie Cease, Michaela Giblin, Toneisha Mathis, Kacey Parisi, Brittany Rice, Mandalyn Swindell, Lauren Wagaman.