Many folks have waited all season for Southport to take off. Perhaps Wednesday night was the springboard.
Five days after losing to Lawrence North by a point in the Marion County tournament semifinals, host Southport knocked off the Class 4A No. 10 Wildcats 46-41.
Southport’s Joey Brunk had 11 points, eight rebounds and the go-ahead basket with a minute remaining.
“I stewed over Friday all weekend, so this one felt good for me and everybody,” Brunk said.
The preseason 4A No. 1, Southport (8-6) hasn’t strung more than two wins together, but five of its losses came by a combined 11 points.
“We knew we could play better in the second half tonight, and I think guys are now buying in and accepting their roles,” Southport coach Kyle Simpson said. “Our defense was really good down the stretch.”
Lawrence North (11-4), which lost Saturday’s county final to Pike on a tip-in at the buzzer, was held to 14 points in the second half.
“Is that all we scored? Well, we were a real offensive machine there,” Wildcats coach Jack Keefer said. “We didn’t get many opportunities, and things just didn’t flow well. It was a tough game, just like last time. They just came out ahead.”
Djimon Henson, who led Lawrence North with 12 points, had eight in the first quarter as the Wildcats built a 16-11 lead. That advantage hit eight in the second period, but two big 3s off the bench by Southport’s David Reyes helped cut it to 27-22 at the break.
Lawrence North controlled the glass in the first half. Ra Kpedi had six of the Wildcats’ 16 rebounds, while Paul Scruggs registered half of Southport’s 10.
Heightened Southport intensity, a pair of 3s by Luke Johnston and foul trouble for Kpedi turned things around for the Cardinals in the third period. They took the lead with a 12-3 spurt and went to the fourth knotted at 36.
A basket by Brunk and a free throw by Scruggs put Southport up three with 10 seconds left. An offensive foul by Lawrence North’s Kevin Easley killed any chance of overtime and a Wildcats comeback.
Sruggs, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, was more assertive over the final 16 minutes.
“Paul has to understand that if he’s not hitting the jumper, he can score in other ways,” Simpson said. “He took command of the game, and this is another good step for us.”
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LAWRENCE NORTH 46, SOUTHPORT 41
Lawrence North 16 11 9 5 — 41
Southport 11 11 14 10 — 46
Lawrence North — Cushingberry 6, Jarrett 6, Henson 12, Kpedi 4, Easley 9 Shouse 0, Wesley 4. Totals 15 6-9 41.
Southport — Scruggs 14, Evans 2, Johnston 8, Walton 2, Brunk 11, Reyes 9, Slaughter 0, Bennett 0. Totals 16 7-10 46.
3-point goals: Lawrence North 5 (Henson 2, Cushingberry, Jarrett, Easley), Southport 7 (Reyes 3, Johnston 2, Scruggs, Brunk)