First Posted: 1/15/2009
PEMBROKE - Purnell Swett shocked the Robeson County high school basketball power structure Saturday, beating favored Red Springs 58-49 in the championship game of the Robeson County Smithfield Chicken & Bar B Q/Burger King Shootout.
The Rams (4-8) were led by tournament MVP point guard Ben Collins, who beat the constant Red Devil pressure all night to set up easy lay-up after lay-up. The recipient of many of those Collins' passes was long and lean forward Jonaris Blue, who scored 16 points and used his height advantage to snag 13 rebounds. Blue's point total was equaled by teammate Terrance Campbell's 16 points - most of which were easy shots in the paint. Both Blue and Campbell were named to the All-Tournament team.
Purnell Swett coach Steve Wood was ecstatic with the play of his surprising squad.
“We're going to use this as a springboard to conference play,” said Wood, who is in his first year at the helm. “We had two goals this season - to win this tournament and make the playoffs. I'm so proud of this team - they played their hearts out.”
There was nothing but disappointment on the Red Devils' (9-3) side of the court. Heavily favored to win the tourney, they committed too many turnovers (20) and shot too poorly from the field (18-of-57) to pull this one out. The Devils were paced by Lee Hammonds' game-high 18 points but were unable to place a another scorer in double figures.
“Hey, that's the game of basketball,” coach Glenn Patterson said. “We just didn't have it tonight.”
The Devils did manage to place Hammonds and Sammy Shaw on the All-Tournament team.
The teams fought to a 25-25 standstill at the intermission, but the Rams uncorked a 9-5 run over the last 1:50 of the third period that gave them a 40-33 lead.
The Devils would pull within 44-40 with 4:28 to play, but it was just too much Blue down the stretch, as he scored six pivotal points in the final minutes of the fourth period. As a team, the Rams buried 10 of 14 from the line over the final two minutes to preserve the victory. For the game, Swett converted 17 of 26 shots from the charity stripe, compared to Red Springs' 9 of 15.
Purnell Swett kicks off conference play Jan. 6 at E.E. Smith.