Lumberton drops Thurs. nonconference contest to Pine Forest
LUMBERTON — In the moments between the basket and the ensuing free throw during a traditional 3-point play by Pine Forest’s Mekhi Johnson, which put Pine Forest up 13 in the fourth quarter Thursday, Lumberton boys basketball coach Bryant Edwards’ message to his team was shouted as succinctly as it was emphatic: “This is embarrassing.”
That remained Edwards’ sentiment in the moments after the Pirates’ 59-43 loss to the visiting Trojans.
“From the tip, we had no effort, no energy, no enthusiasm to play,” Edwards said. “A game of this magnitude, the fans didn’t show up. The support wasn’t there from the exterior, the environment inside the locker room was bad, the entire environment was bad. It was the worst environment and the worst performance from one of my teams in four years of being at Lumberton. It was absolutely embarrassing.
“If I was athletic director, if I was whatever, I’d give everybody their money back. That was pitiful.”
Lumberton (18-3) suffered just its third loss of the season, but its second to Pine Forest (13-7) after a 56-54 Trojans win Dec. 2 in Fayetteville. Pine Forest also eliminated the Pirates in the second round of the 4A state playoffs last season.
The Trojans led 21-20 at halftime before scoring 21 points in the third quarter, rare production by a Pirates opponent. Xayden Watson and Caleb Buckley each hit two 3s in the period as part of a 5-for-12 3-point shooting mark by the Trojans in the second half.
The Trojans opened the second half with a 12-3 run to take a 33-23 lead; Pine Forest led 42-28 with 2:49 left in the quarter after Buckley’s two triples came on back-to-back possessions, and took a 42-32 lead to the fourth.
“We came out, we wanted to push the tempo up on defense a little bit, wanted to try to get them to turn the ball over a little bit more,” Edwards said. “But when we’d go to trap the basketball, we wouldn’t sprint out of traps, we wouldn’t sprint on rotations, which goes back to effort and intensity, and we didn’t have it. And they were getting open shots and knocking them down, so kudos to them, they’re a good team.”
After the teams exchanged baskets early in the fourth, Johnson’s basket-and-1 was followed by a Watson layup to put the Trojans up 52-37 with 4:55 to play. Lumberton never got closer than a 13-point deficit for the duration of the game.
Watson scored 20 points, Trey Herbert had 15 and Melquan Jackson netted nine for Pine Forest.
J.B. Brockington scored 16 points and Tre Lewis had 12 for Lumberton, but no one else scored more than four points as the Pirates also struggled on the offensive end. The Pirates committed 16 turnovers and shot 3-for-18 from distance.
“They just were the tougher team, they pushed us around,” Edwards said. “We couldn’t start our offense where we wanted to start it. The officials let us play a physical game, which usually we like … (but) they came in with a mindset of they wanted to beat us.”
Lumberton took an 8-3 lead late in a defensive first quarter after an Ayhem Allan 3; Pine Forest scored two of the last three baskets of the period to cut the lead to 10-7 when the quarter expired.
The second quarter saw nine lead changes, and neither team held a lead of more than three points in the period. Herbert scored eight points in the quarter, including a go-ahead 3 with 3 seconds left in the half to give Pine Forest its one-point lead at intermission.
While the nonconference loss won’t affect Lumberton’s second-place standing in the United-8 Conference, it certainly gives Edwards cause for concern with league-leading Seventy-First coming to visit on Tuesday.
“We’ve got to get our identity back. We’ve got to get our bench production up, we’ve got to get our effort and intensity back up, and we’ve got to dig deep. There’s a lot of things that’s got to go on right now, from effort and energy to create open shots and execute our stuff on the offensive end, but also on the defensive end, we’re not defending like we always have.”
Before the showdown with Seventy-First, the Pirates host Douglas Byrd on Friday.
Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.