Losing skid hits seven as Southampton falls to Surry
Published 10:14 am Saturday, January 10, 2015
In an effort to end his team’s six-game losing streak, Southampton High School boys basketball coach Sharon Bailey shook up his starting lineup for Wednesday’s game against Surry County High School. Sophomore Darius Bell, the team’s leading scorer, and Tyrann Hunt had started the first 12 games of the season for the Indians, but were relegated to coming off the bench against the Cougars.
While he wouldn’t place the blame on his two star players, Bailey believes that his team’s lack of cohesiveness has been the reason for their recent struggles.
“We’ve been playing as individuals. Everyone just wants to get their name in the paper, it seems,” he said.
Another problem, according to the second-year head coach, is injuries. Junior Russell Balance, the quarterback on the football team, suffered a leg injury that caused him to miss every game thus far. Senior Shane Agunzo has also missed the last four contests, and five of the last six, after spraining both ankles last month. Bailey said there is no timetable for Agunzo to be ready.
Meanwhile, Balance saw limited action in his return on Wednesday, meaning Bailey started four players that were projected to come off the pine at the start of the year.
Unfortunately for the Indians, the new strategy did not pay off. Surry raced out to a 7-0 lead to open the game, using full-court pressure to force turnovers.
“We just got flustered,” Bailey said. “When we’re pressured like that, we lose focus and forget what to do and where the ball is supposed to go.”
The Cougars forced 21 turnovers, and often capitalized on second chances at the other end, as 11 offensive rebounds turned into 19 points.
“We were out-rebounded by their little guards…,” Bailey said. “We just have to go back to the drawing board and practice the fundamentals of the game, our ball handling and rebounding.”
With only two minutes remaining in the first quarter, and the Indians trailing 16-4, Bailey called Bell and Hunt off the bench in hopes that they’d ignite a spark. However, Bell managed a single free throw to cut the lead to nine at the quarter break.
After attempting to facilitate the offense through his teammates early on, Bell tried to take matters into his own hands in the second quarter. Surry’s constant double-teaming and overall ball pressure forced Bell to take several contested shots, though, and he became increasingly frustrated.
Southampton would have a chance to cut the 32-15 halftime deficit to single digits in the third quarter, but missed free throws ended any hope of a comeback.
“We were one-of-eight from the free throw line during a span of four or five minutes in the third quarter,” Bailey said. “We’d miss, they’d go down and make a basket, and the lead would continue to grow.”
The Indians missed 16 total free throws in the contest, and were unable to overcome the increasing deficit, falling to the Cougars, 64-41. Junior guard Derrick Fennell led the team with eight points in the losing effort.
“We have a tough road ahead, and we need to get healthy, but there’s still hope,” Bailey said of the upcoming schedule.
With the loss, Southampton falls to 4-9 on the season. The team returns to action next Wednesday against rival Franklin, and Bailey hopes that the time off will help his team focus.
“We’re getting into the gym right away and practicing tonight.”