Seminole County’s Anfernee King (11) dribbles upcourt as Pelham’s Joshua Russell (21) defends Saturday night at Pelham High School. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
PELHAM — Seminole County sophomore and Herald Super 6er Jordan Harris had already given teammate Jahmyka Pearson the heads up and to be expecting the ball.
When Harris drove the lane in the closing two minutes Saturday night at Pelham, he dished the ball to Pearson who was waiting on the baseline.
Pearson then sank a lay-in to extend the Indians’ lead to seven points and provided the clincher as Seminole County took a 54-46 non-region victory over the Hornets on Saturday night.
“I knew the ball was coming,” Pearson said. “He (Harris) does that all the time.”
Pearson’s bucket gave The Herald No. 3 Indians some breathing room in a low-scoring defensive battle. Pelham and Seminole County scraped, dove and fought for loose balls in a game that looked more like playoff basketball than a mid-December, non-region tilt.
Pelham fell to 1-1 on the season but played well enough to win.
“We’ve got to learn how to finish what we start,” Pelham coach Laron Smith said. “We’ll play a certain way for a while, then we’ll get away from it. To win these type of games, we’ve got to get those 50-50 balls, defend the basket, hit our free throws … we didn’t do any of that down the stretch.”
Both teams traded leads throughout the first two quarters. However, it seemed that Pelham finally found some cushion shortly before halftime when Clarence Almond and Joshua Russell sank back-to-back 3-point baskets to take a 22-18 halftime lead.
Seminole County coach Kevin Godwin said Pelham extended its 2-3 zone defense in the first half and took away his Indians’ perimeter game.
“We made some adjustments in the third quarter,” Godwin said. “They did a great job of taking away our 3-point shot.”
Seminole County (5-0) took control early in the third and increased its lead to 37-30 on Jamal Martin’s bucket to open the final quarter. But Pelham used a putback, then Duntrez Moore sank one of his two free throws to move the Hornets within three at 37-34 with 7:02 left.
But Seminole gradually pushed its lead back to six before Harris fed inside to Pearson to make it 48-41 with 1:33 left.
“That was the nail right there,” Godwin said. “This was a hard-fought game. Pelham is going to win a lot of ball games this year.”
Pearson finished with a game-high 13 points, while Harris chipped in 12. Jamarcus Gray finished with 11 for the Indians.
Smith was disappointed after the game, but he knows Pelham is only going to improve.
“Seminole County knows how to win,” Smith said. “We’ve got to get that mindset. We’re not there yet, but I believe we’re going to get there. (Saturday) was a great opportunity to get the confidence we needed. We played a good half.”
Russell led the Hornets with 12, while Quintrez Moore finished with eight points. Almond and Darrius Spence added seven points apiece.
PELHAM GIRLS 65, SEMINOLE COUNTY 22: Pelham started with a ferocious full court press, which created turnovers and helped the Lady Hornets run away with an easy victory over Seminole County in Herald No. 5 Pelham’s second game of the season.
Pelham ended the first quarter on a 13-0 run. Meanwhile, its defense held Seminole without a basket during the final six minutes of the opening quarter. The Lady Indians didn’t score until Deja Martin sank a pair of free throws with 1:35 left in the second quarter.
Pelham (2-0) was led by Destiny Thomas’ 17 points. Hillary Williams finished with 12 points, while Herald Super 6er Briunna Freeman added 11 in a game where the Lady Hornets were never seriously challenged.
Seminole County (1-3) was led by Shymeshia Hopkins’ eight points. Kerra Shirley added six points.