Seahawks survive scare versus Lejeune

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS CLUTCH SHOOTING: Senior Rashaun Moore looks on as hit counterpart Donshae Miller steps to the line with the game on the line.

CLUTCH SHOOTING: Senior Rashaun Moore looks on as hit counterpart Donshae Miller steps to the line with the game on the line.

CHOCOWINITY — What should have been a relatively easy victory for the Seahawks Wednesday night looked more like a trap game halfway through the third quarter, but two clutch free throws from senior point guard Donshae Miller with 8.6 seconds remaining lifted Southside to a 55-53 win over Lejeune.

“When they went back to the zone, it just seemed like we couldn’t get in a rhythm and run the plays right,” said head coach Sean White. “I was getting frustrated and called a couple timeouts to draw up (the plays) on the board. It was like there was always one guy not going his job and on set plays against that zone, if everyone isn’t working cohesively, the whole thing collapses. That’s what was happening in the second half.”

The first 16 minutes was business as usual for Southside against an inferior opponent on paper. Lejeune, which entered with a 4-14 record and just one conference win, applied a man-to-man defense and struggled to keep pace with Miller and Rashaun Moore in the backcourt.

Miller, who recorded five assists in the first half, effortlessly found Donshae Tatum in the paint, Phillip Smith from mid-range and Moore on the cut. With half as many fans in the stands than on an average day, along with the supposed mismatch, the atmosphere was dull, resulting in a lack of intensity on the court. Nevertheless, Southside cruised, doubling Lejeune’s offensive output with a 28-14 advantage at the half.

The second half, however, altered the narrative that was the first two quarters. Head coach Seneca Hill, clearly seeing the mismatch at the guard positions, switched his defense from a 1-3-1 to a man-to-man. And the Seahawks’ offense, which had been accustomed to exploiting a lackluster zone defense, nearly shutdown as a result. In the key, Southside missed first, second and third-chance opportunities, while at the same time hitting virtually nothing from the outside.

Offensively, Lejeune never veered from its initial game plan and slowly began to chip away.

“We played great in the first quarter and second quarter and at half time we had doubled the score on them,” White said. “We went over stuff in the locker room, but we just came out flat in the second half.”

After a quiet first half, Devil Pups center A.J. McCall began to convert, hitting four contest layups and working his way to the line. His 11 points in the third quarter were the difference and Southside’s 14-point halftime lead was just three by the end of the third quarter.

Still, Southside struggled to hit shots in the fourth quarter and with 7:01 on the clock, the Devil Pups had secured their first lead of the ballgame, 37-35. The man defense only intensified and soon, the Seahawks found themselves down seven with 4:45 remaining.

But over the final minutes, after a few animated timeouts from White, Southside returned to form, as Miller and Moore challenged McCall in the paint and erased the visitor’s lead.

Identical to the game against Northside nine days prior, where Miller hit the game-winning free throws, he again stepped to the charity stripe with a chance to win it, once again, with the game tied at 53. Miller drained both free throws.

The Devil Pups decided to put the ball in the hands of McCall, who finished with 16 points, for the final play, he was unable to get a shot off.

The win preserves Southside’s second-place spot in the Coastal Plains Conference, as the team gets ready for its most difficult week of basketball this season.

Moore finished with a game-high 19 points, while Miller notched a quiet 12 points and six assists.

The Seahawks will host Pamlico County on Monday in their final home game of the regular season.