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Southeast tops North in thriller

Published Feb. 14 at 11:18 p.m. | Last updated Feb. 14 at 11:20 p.m.

In his second season as Southeast’s boys coach, Melvin Herring has already coined a term for the one-on-one brand of basketball he feels is the lone obstacle in the Buffaloes’ way.

“I call it the ‘Old, bugaboo Southeast basketball,’” Herring said. “When we get away from the team concept and try to do too much individually, that’s where we get into trouble.”

While the ‘bugaboo’ is still a vice for Southeast, it is learning how to conquer it and come out victorious. A step forward in that process was taken Friday night, as Southeast defeated North 59-56 in the Redskins’ old gymnasium on senior night.

The Buffaloes improved to 12-4 overall and 9-3 in the City League, as well as avenging a home loss to North in December.

“We wanted that game so bad,” Southeast senior EJ Garnes said. “We feel like they stole one from us that first game.”

Southeast nearly let another slip away, allowing a 15-point second half lead to dwindle to two points after Sean Bernard (16 points) scored on a tip-in with 57 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

The two teams proceeded to squander precious opportunities, as Southeast had a careless turnover to give North its first possession with the possibility to tie or take the lead. But the Redskins committed an oddly similar careless mistake to give Southeast the ball back.

After being forced to foul Elijah Payne with 11 seconds left, hope still remained for North when he split his pair of free throws for a three-point deficit. North’s Zach Beard launched a game-tying shot out of a double-team, which rolled in and out of the rim while the senior guard protested for a foul call.

“Those kids played their hearts out to get back in that game,” North coach Gary Squires said. “We had a shot at it, and that’s all I wanted.”

Southeast was able to exhale after suffering through two extended periods of lax play. The worst came in the first half, as a 10-minute stretch featured five Southeast points on 2-of-13 shooting and five turnovers.

North, without any real exceptional play, extended a lead to 21-11 midway through the second quarter. But then the Buffaloes made their rally, ending the quarter on a 14-0 run.

“That’s just how streaky they are,” Squires said.

But that run stretched into the third quarter, as Southeast opened that one with a 17-6 run. Combined, it was a nine-minute stretch where the Buffaloes out-scored North 31-6.

Behind the will of Zach Beard (game-high 18 points) and an efficient outing from Bernard North showed its resiliency to keep working away at the lead.

When Southeast needed a bail-out, senior Jordan Murdock was there to provide one. A deep three-pointer gave the Buffaloes breathing room again, at 53-47, then he followed that one with a pump-fake and dribbled in for another trey, this time for a 56-49 lead with 2:43 left.

“He hits that shot dang near every close game, no matter how deep it is,” said Garnes (10 points, 8 assists). “Once that goes up, we’re already basically cheering. We know it’s going in.”

Instead of taking credit for the shots, Murdock deflected it upon his teammates.

Another completed step in the process of squashing the bugaboo.

“Once we get back to that Southeast basketball,” Murdock said with a smile, “we can go.”

Southeast916171759
North1011132256

SOUTHEAST: Garnes 10, Payne 10, Murdock 16, Loudermilk 8, Franklin 10, Harding 5.

NORTH: Beard 18, Williams 9, Bogle 3, Bernard 16, Lewis 6, Loy 4.