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Gates snaps streak by beating Louisburg

GATESVILLE – Maybe they were just saving the best for last, but what a way to close down the house.

Gates County High School’s boys basketball team seems to find the best time to break their losing streaks. The latest coming Tuesday night as the Red Barons took a 57-48 win over Louisburg, ending an eight-game slide in 1-A Tar-Roanoke Conference play.

“Maybe you should come to all our games,” joked coach Josh Wilson to this reporter since the last time I had seen the Red Barons (9-14, 2-9) play they were winning the championship game of the News-Herald Holiday Classic sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty with an upset over favored Bertie High back in December.

But the Barons’ play against the Warriors was no joke as Sedrick Blow celebrated his final home game on ‘Senior Night’ with a 22-point performance to lead all scorers while teammate C.J. Griffin chipped in 11 and Damion Gatling finished with eight.

Rasool Kearney led three Louisburg (11-9, 5-5) players in double-figures with 12.

The pendulum swung back and forth in the early going. The teams traded baskets until a Jeremy Smith layup gave Gates a lead of more than one point at 10-8. Blow followed with a put-back for a four-point lead and that’s what the margin was after the first quarter at 14-10, Gates.

Donte Walker opened the second quarter for Louisburg with a three-point basket to pull the Warriors within a point, but Gates then turned up the man-to-man defense and capitalized on Louisburg turnovers.

The Barons begin a 13-3 run highlighted by a pair of spectacular finger-roll lay-ins by Blow and a long trey from Griffin to make the Gates lead, 27-26 with 2:46 until the break.

Louisburg recovered and shut Gates down the remainder of the half while putting up eight points of their own to make it 27-24 at the break.

Gates made it a seven-point lead in the first minute and a half of the third quarter at 33-26, but Louisburg refused to wilt, cutting the deficit to three before the Warriors’ Hakeem Strickland was fouled on a three-point shot. He only made one free-throw, but a D’Andre Blacknall put-back had made it a two-point game at 33-31.

At the five-minute mark Blow picked up his second foul and D’Andre Walker’s two foul shots tied the game at 33.

Louisburg then got a back-door layup off their motion offense and took their first lead since the first quarter at 35-33. The lead then see-sawed until Walker hit a jump shot followed two plays later by a Nick Tabron dunk and Louisburg entered the final quarter ahead, 39-38.

The Warriors still had a one-point lead, 41-40, in the fourth when Marcus Costen swatted away a Louisburg driving layup down the middle. Blow retrieved the errant basketball and skied in for a lay-up and Gates took a lead they never relinquished. Costen picked up two quick fouls, but Louisburg made only one of four free throws at have the Gates lead sit at 46-44.

Gates then went into a spread offense that led to a couple of Blow layups for a 51-44 lead with a minute-15 left to play. Despite being in the bonus, Louisburg missed two straight one-and-one free throw opportunities and were then forced to foul. Gates made 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch to hold off the Warriors and post just their second win in 11 league starts, but it put the cap on ‘Senior Night’.

“A great way for these seniors to go out,” said Wilson. “Now with the tournament ahead, anything can happen,” he added with a shrug, “and after that, who knows?”

A frustrated Louisburg coach Chris Davis, coaching his second game of the night, merely shook his head and sighed, “Just like the (conference-leader) Weldon game. Mistakes down the stretch let this one slip away from us.”

The Red Barons can make it two in a row to close the regular season Friday night in Leggett when they visit North Edgecombe.