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Bulls finish strong against Gray Stone

A team that comes off the opening tip and swishes its first three shots from the field would not seem a likely candidate to suddenly find a lid on the basket.

But that is what happened in the first quarter of Friday’s Yadkin Valley Conference game between second-place South Stanly (8-2 YVC, 10-8 overall) and seventh-place Gray Stone Day (2-8 YVC, 4-13 overall).

After jumping to a 7-0 lead only 90 seconds into the game behind baskets by Tori Colson and Jacorian Legrande, plus a 3-pointer by Addison Tarlton, the Bulls appeared to be cruising toward an easy win.

But, there was one problem…no one told Gray Stone. The Knights proceeded to score 12 of the quarter’s next 14 on strong inside play by Marshall Overcash and Brennan Bailey to gain a 12-9 advantage eight minutes in.

Meanwhile, the home-standing Bulls, who entered the game averaging 65 points per game, appeared stunned as they headed to the bench to hear from an equally dismayed coach Sean Whitley.

What was said in the team huddle between periods was neither loud nor flamboyant, but it did appear to right the ship for South as the Bulls exploded for 23 second period points while holding its opponent to only four in taking a 32-16 halftime lead.

“Jaquez (Cooke) sparked our defense after that slow start,” said Whitley after the game, “and that inspired the rest of the team to play just as hard.”

The second quarter defensive effort by Cooke and his teammates resulted in six Gray Stone turnovers and featured aggressive board play that allowed virtually no second-chance shots for the Knights. The visitors’ last lead of the game was erased at the 5:24 mark of the period on a steal and layup by Colson, part of an 18-0 Bulls run to end the half.

Despite the low first quarter point output, South Stanly shot 10-of-19 (53 percent) from two-point range, and 11-of-30 (43 percent) overall during the first half, including 20 points in the paint. Gray Stone, which saw offensive woes in the second period similar to those experienced by South in the first, shot only 6-of-28 (21 percent) from the field.

Despite a strong second half performance by Overcash (10 points), the Knights were never in position to threaten the lead again, while South was able to clear its bench over the final two quarters.

“We played good in spurts tonight,” said Whitley. “When we ratchet up our defense, we can play really well, but we need to convince everyone on the team to play hard all the time.”

Whitley was also pleased with the play of senior center Jitavius Huntley.

“He (Huntley) gave us some valuable minutes tonight,” said the coach. “He is a big, strong presence in the middle.”

Legrande had 15 points to pace South Stanly, with Cooke also in double figures at 14. Overcash was top scorer for Gray Stone, netting 15.

Both schools are on the road Tuesday, with South Stanly visiting Uwharrie Charter, while Gray Stone travels to South Davidson.

GRAY STONE DAY 12 4 10 13 — 39
SOUTH STANLY 9 23 14 20 — 66

GS (39) Marshall Overcash 15, Bailey 9, McDow 7, Whitesell 4, Maness 2, Tuzenew 2
SS (66) Jacorian Legrande 15, Jacquez Cooke 14, Jones 9, Colson 7, Huntley 6, Tarlton 6, McSwain 5, Lowder 4