Jaclyn Shambaugh Staff writer @jaclynshambaugh
E.E. Smith had 11 days to pick apart its Jan. 29th loss to Terry Sanford and install a game plan that might give the Golden Bulls the edge in the pairs’ final regular-season meeting Friday.
And they needed to do it on the road and with the Patriot 4-A/3-A Conference title on the line.
Credit the Bulls with a strong learning curve and a big-game mentality, both on display as they battled through to a 43-39 win at Terry Sanford.
Junior Alex Scruggs, the Bulls’ versatile Division I prospect, led all scorers with 16 points, including an 8-for-10 performance from the free-throw line.
“In the last game we played, we kept pressing, and they just kept getting right past it,” Scruggs said. “We figured we’d just box it in and try to keep them from getting as many open shots. They were hitting them tonight, but we just limited how many they got.”
With the win, Smith (21-3, 15-1) takes its third straight league title, following Mid-South 4-A championships in 2016 and 2017 with this year’s Patriot title.
Coach Dee Hardy said mitigating the Bulldogs’ speedy lineup, powered by junior point guard Imani Elliott, was a key part of the Bulls’ game plan.