First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - Playing in his final regular season home game, Lumberton guard Matt Taylor did just about everything he could to go out with a win.
Taylor, one of three Pirates seniors, scored a career-high 37 points on Pirate Senior Night and sophomore Stargell Love added a season-best 26. But it wasn't enough as visiting E.E. Smith came away with a 99-94 win.
“I definitely would've rather won,” Taylor said of his scoring output. “But we played as hard as we could.”
With the loss, the Pirates (13-8, 7-5 Two Rivers) finish the regular season fourth in the Two Rivers Conference. They will likely host a rematch with the Golden Bulls in the first round of next week's conference tournament, but that will be determined on today by Two Rivers officials.
The Pirates, who trailed for much of the second half, made a late run before time finally ran out on them. After E.E. Smith took an eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, Lumberton sophomore guard Shomari Moore drove coast-to-coast to pull the Pirates. Love then connected on his third 3-pointer of the night to cut the deficit to just three with 1:19 remaining.
“Just play good defense and make good decisions,” Taylor said of the Pirates discussion in the huddle.
But Lumberton scored just one field goal - a dunk by Taylor with 23 seconds left - the rest of the game. The Pirates were doomed by several missed layups and 24-of-40 shooting from the foul line.
“I felt like we could've won the game,” Love said. “But we just missed too many free throws and too many easy shots and made too many bad decisions.”
None of those facts were lost on Pirates coach Ted Gaskins.
“It might've been senior night, but we didn't get good quality play out of our seniors,” Gaskins said. “We missed too many layups and too many free throws and fumbled too many balls as a team.”
Lumberton led 27-19 after the first quarter, but E.E. Smith guard Chris Ward took over in the second. Ward hit four 3-pointers in the period, scoring 18 of his team-high 30 point. The Golden Bulls took a three-point lead into the half.
“We were just slacking and not running back on defense,” said Love, who scored nine points in the second quarter while going back-and-forth with Ward. “I was just doing everything I could to get the boys hyped back up. Then in the third quarter, we started to come back, but I think it was just too late.”
Moore added 13 points for the Pirates.
NeQuan Melvin and Linwood Smith each scored 12 points for E.E. Smith (13-11 and 6-6 Two Rivers), while Timothy Carmichael added 11 and Keith Rudolph 10.