GARNER — Garner got the kind of basketball game Coach Eddie Gray has been looking for all season long Friday night.
Freshman Thomas Allen had 15 points, leading three Trojans in double figures as Garner walloped East Wake 84-53 in Greater Neuse River 4A boys action Friday night.
In the girls game, freshman Tamira Knuckles scored 10 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors escaped with a 52-37 victory to sweep their season series. It was East’s eighth straight win over Garner.
Boys: Garner 84, East Wake 53
Junior point guard Julius Barnes added 13 points, while freshman Alex Reed chipped in 10 points for the Trojans, who had beaten East by only 67-63 on Dec. 13 in Wendell.
Garner (9-7, 5-2 GNRC) won despite a 32-point, 11-rebound night from the Warriors’ Nahjuwan Potts. East, which has never beaten Garner during Darrin Stinson’s five seasons at the helm, fell to 11-6 and 4-4.
“We’ve gotten better,” Gray said. “We had a really young team at the beginning of the season and they’re not young any more. If they don’t get better I’m not doing my job.”
The Trojans took control in the opening minutes. The first of back-to-back 3-pointers from Sammy Saunders gave the Trojans the lead for good at 13-11 with 3:03 left in the first quarter.
East made it 22-19 on a Potts layup with 7:03 left in the half, but Garner stretched the lead to 43-24 at the break on a Darius Simmons 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We just couldn’t get into a groove offensively,” Stinson said. “We missed some defensive assignments and didn’t match up the way we wanted.”
Except for a 61-point win over Rolesville, which has only freshman and sophomore classes, the margin was the Trojans’ largest of the season.
Garner has won four straight games.
“We haven’t been starting games well,” Barnes said. “We fixed some things in practice. Coach Gray told us to go out and play with attitude.”
Girls: East 52, Garner 37
Shayla Tanner and Ciera Williams added 10 points each for East (15-2, 7-1), which won its seventh straight game.
Adaya Thorpe had 13 points to lead the Trojans (3-9, 1-6), who had a two-game winning streak broken.
“I told them before the fourth quarter we had to step it up and play,” East coach Toni Vick said. “The ones who were really ready to play stepped it up in the fourth quarter.”
East led 26-13 at halftime. The Warriors scored the first eight points before Kelsey Bryan got Garner on the board with a jumper at the 4:10 mark.
Garner cut the lead to a point twice in the second quarter, the last time on an Amber Courtney jumper that cut it to 12-11 at 7:05.
But the Warriors responded with the next 10 points as Garner went scoreless for a span of 5:40 before Bryan’s steal and layup.
“We allowed them to start the end of the fourth quarter fast and we hung our heads,” Garner coach Hardrick Mays said. “Instead of us stepping up and playing the defense we’d been playing all night, that changed the course of the game.”
Garner outscored the visitors 11-4 in the third period, but East put the game away in the first two minutes of the fourth with a 9-0 run that included eight straight points including a pair of 3-pointers from Knuckles.
“We just really picked it up,” Knuckles said. “We knew we had to win this one. Maybe we were a little bit overconfident, but Garner was playing well and we had to step it up.”