RALEIGH — For Green Hope boys basketball coach John Green and his players, all that mattered was that they took home a “W” with their 43-37 win over Athens Drive on Tuesday in the Jaguars’ gym.
When you’re a team that has lost five games by six or fewer points this early in the season, you don’t argue style points.
“A win is a win, especially when struggling like we have been,” Green said. “As ugly as it was, I’d rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss.”
Green Hope improved 5-9 overall and 2-2 in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, while Athens Drive dropped to 1-13 and 0-3 in conference play.
Ridge Ford led Green Hope with 13 points, including hitting five free throws in the final minute after Athens Drive had trimmed the deficit to 38-36 with 2:27 to play.
Green didn’t have much to single out from his team’s offensive performance, but he was happy with the defensive effort and the play off the bench.
“We held them to 37 points,” he said. “I thought our second group did a phenomenal job with their defense. The second group really sparked us in the second half.”
Jonah Saacks scored nine points off the bench, including a 3-point field in the third quarter when the Falcons scored only eight points.
“We’ve got to do a better job of a passing the ball,” Green said. “If we pass the ball better, it’s going to open points for guys the way Saacks was able to score.”
For Athens Drive, veteran head coach Robert Clemons was hoping to sprinkle a little magic that Athens Drive alum Josh Davis has brought to San Diego State’s No. 13-ranked basketball team this season as a fifth-year graduate transfer.
Clemons said he told all his players to watch San Diego State’s game at Kansas on Sunday. Davis, who is averaging 8.9 points and 11.3 rebounds, posted his fifth double-double of the season to help the Aztecs upset then-No. 16 Kansas.
But with no one like the 6-foot-8 Davis, Athens Drive has been fighting an uphill battle as a team without a player taller than 6-2 and without consistent outside shooting.
“We came close to winning, and I can’t fault our effort,” Clemons said. “All we can do is keep playing hard. I thought we played hard enough to win, but we just didn’t make enough offensive plays.”
Isaiah Jones led Athens Drive with 14 points, and John Trannon added nine off the bench.