Brandon Jennings’ first words in his postgame interview Tuesday night was “Latravious McNair.” Mount Olive’s point leader was a thorn in Stringer’s side at home on Senior Night. McNair, who finished with a game-high 22-points wasn’t a factor in his team’s 20-point loss to the Red Devils back on Jan. 16.
“Latravious McNair is an excellent ball player,” said Stringer’s head boys basketball coach. “He was under the weather the first time we played them. We knew Mount Olive would try something different this time around [with McNair healthy].
“And we came out a little flat on Senior Night and faced a little adversity.”
Stringer’s second meeting versus Mount Olive was vastly different with McNair fully healthy. But the Red Devils weathered the slow start and handed Mount Olive a 56-53 loss to earn its 20th win of the regular season (according to MaxPreps.com).
“I was proud of the way our boys came out and played in the second half and pulled out the win,” Jennings added.
Stringer trailed Mount Olive by as many as 11 points in the third period. Backed by a solid free throw shooting by Haden Boyd and several key baskets by Omarion Bridges, Stringer pulled within four points on five straight free throw baskets to close out the third, 41-37.
“We cleared out the floor and let Haden Boyd go one on one [to draw some fouls] and let him shoot some free throws,” said Jennings. “Omarion Bridges, a freshman, also knocked down some free throws for us at the end.”
Boyd, who was kept scoreless in the first period, finished with a team-high 20 points. Bridges added 7 points in the win, four of his seven came on free throw baskets in the third period. Stringer shot 15-of-32 from the line.
“In the first half, teams try to keep the ball away from Boyd because he’s such a predominant scorer,” said Jennings. “But he stayed calm. Early in the season, he would have gotten frustrated, but it wasn’t a factor tonight. He showed his senior leadership.”
Keyshawn Dease, Stringer’s second-leading scorer on the night with 12 points, helped pull his team out in front in the final quarter. Of his 12 points, seven came in the final period. The junior’s basket with 2:11 left in the game gave Stringer a 49-48 lead. Dease and the rest of the Red Devil’s held on from there to pull out the come-from-behind win.
“We got big two-point baskets from all of our players,” said Jennings. “Dease got McNair in foul trouble, and that was huge for us.
Stringer travels to Sebastopol this Thursday night for its final regular season game before the Region 7-1A tournament which is set to be held at Mount Olive.
“We will finish in second place in the region for the regular season, and I am happy for that,” stated Jennings. “I think our district is one of the toughest in the South.”
Stringer improves to 20-8 on the season.
Led by Katelyn Green’s game-high 17 points, the Stringer Lady Red Devils downed Mount Olive 54-22 Tuesday night.
Madison Rayner and Abby Grace McNeil added 13 points a piece also for the Lady Red Devils.