Dec 13, 2008
KNIGHTDALE — Knightdale’s performance Friday was not perfect, but the Knights executed their game plan with impeccable precision en route to a 92-67 victory over visiting Garner.
The Trojans, coming off a big win against Clayton on Tuesday, were poised to defend their unblemished conference record. But the Knights succeeded in beating the Trojans at their own game.
“For us it was about defensive rebounding,” said Knightdale coach Battle Watkins. “We knew Garner was athletic, and one of the things they do well is rebound missed shots. On the offensive end they block shots well, so we had to assert ourselves around the basket. Eric Green, Dijon Manns and Stan Okoye owned the backboards, and I’m really proud of them for that.”
The Knights dominated the boards, outrebounding the Trojans, 36-15. Okoye led his team with eight, while Green and Manns added seven and six rebounds, respectively.
Another key to the Knights’ victory was their ability to maintain their up-tempo style of play through all four quarters. Garner, a team that is also known for its quickness, was able to stay with the Knights through much of the second half, but Knightdale’s consistency proved to be too much for the visiting team.
“They [Garner] get up and down the court quick,” Watkins said. “We also try to play that way, quick and athletic, so I felt like limiting them to one shot made a big difference because then we were able to get out in transition and get some easy baskets on the other end. We’ve worked for about two weeks trying to play faster offensively.”
The Knights (5-3) proved to be extremely effective on the offensive end, shooting 57 percent from the field and hitting five of their nine 3-point attempts. Okoye led all scorers with 27 points, while Desmond Noel added 12 for the Knights.
Josh Brooks had another strong night for Garner (4-5), leading the Trojans with 19 points. Albert Smith, Demetrius Upchurch, and Darius Hicks played tough on the defensive end, teaming up to block six Knightdale shots.
With the win, Knightdale is now the only Greater Neuse team with a perfect conference record. Despite Friday’s dominant performance, Watkins is confident that his team will not begin to take the other conference team lightly.
“We’re not used to this situation, so our kids are not overconfident,” Watkins said. “We know that we can play that well every night if the kids handle their roles and responsibilities and play hard. … Clayton won the conference last year. It didn’t matter if we thought we were better than them, they beat us three times. It doesn’t matter what your record is, you have to play every night. With the conference, everybody knows everybody. A lot of times it’s just who plays harder that particular night.”
Both Knightdale and Garner will return to action next Tuesday in key Greater Neuse match-ups. The Knights will travel to take on Holly Springs, while the Trojans will play host to Smithfield-Selma.
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