Hilltoppers rocked by Shelby, 92-61
From the moment the starting line-ups were introduced to the final buzzer, the Shelby Golden Lions dominated the R-S Central Hilltopper en route to a 92-61 win Friday night in Rutherfordton.
“I thought for the majority of the first half, though we were behind, that we were playing well and actually making baskets,” Central head coach Greg Wright said after the game. “We never stopped them tonight. They’re good offensively and their size bothered us all night and defensively we were atrocious.”
The Shelby size proved troublesome for Cetnral from the opening tip.
Shelby’s Spencer Clark banged his way down low for four easy points while Chris Wray used his long arms to alter a handful of Central shots and passes.
Two early 3-point shots from Jay Blanton kept the Hilltoppers close.
Jaylen Hollis and Rashaun Whitesides had a few strong plays under the basket for the Hilltoppers but the Golden Lions, led by Gabe DeVoe, owned a 29-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Blanton opened the quarter with another 3 to put the Hilltoppers back within single digits.
Hollis and Jordan Hamilton led a Central charge but the Golden Lions matched them point-for-point and then some.
Shelby’s length continued to cause problems and Hilltopper turnovers.
DeVoe and Company poured in some more buckets for Shelby and they took a 49-30 lead into halftime.
Out of the break the Hilltoppers had flashes of hope from Blanton and Hollis but the Shelby lead never seemed to lessen.
“There was some individual play that was good for us tonight but we never got into a rhythm as a team,” Wright said.
Despite the Shelby reserves getting time off the bench, the Golden Lion lead ballooned to over 30 points.
After a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Shelby, the Hilltoppers trailed 74-41 heading into the final eight minutes.
Shelby started the fourth quarter with a bang as Wray took a steal down the court and lobbed it off the backboard to a trailing DeVoe who slammed it home.
With 6:05 remaining, Shelby head coach Aubrey Hollifield re-inserted his reserves. Wright sent in his bench a few minutes later to close out the contest.
Shelby rode out the final five minutes and loaded the bus with a convincing 92-61 win.
“They got absolutely everything they wanted to tonight,” Wright said. “They are as-advertised. They’re skilled and they played well tonight. I thought we did as well at times tonight but we just didn’t have that consistency. You have to give Shelby a lot of credit.”
“We have one of two ways to go after tonight. We could either learn from it and get better, or we won’t,” Wright added.
Whitesides led the Hilltoppers with 16 points and eight rebounds. Hamilton and Hollis added 10 and nine respectively.
DeVoe led all scorers with 22 closely followed by Clark with 20.
Central returns to the court Friday, Jan. 18 when they travel to Burns. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
“Next week against Burns is a big game against another 3A opponent,” Wright said. “Luckily there’s plenty of time between this game and next week.”