ROCKINGHAM — It took the majority of the game for the Temple Christian boys basketball team to dial in it from long range.
And by the time the Tigers started connecting from beyond the 3-point line it was too late.
Marlboro Academy handed Temple its second consecutive loss 69-61 Monday night on Senior Night.
“A couple of times the ball didn’t go in and then you start dropping your head,” Temple coach John Byrd said. “Then you stand and watch on defense.”
After Greg Hagins nailed a 3-pointer in the opening moments of the first quarter, the Tigers didn’t hit another one until 4:31 remained in the game.
Byrd credits Marlboro Academy’s defense for not giving his team any open looks at the basket.
“What the real problem is that we have a difficult time replicating that kind of pressure we see on the court in practice,” he said. “You can initially work through it but it wears on you and you make a poor pass. You can get away with a pass like that in practice, but not against a team like this.”
The Tigers only had three players score in the game against the Dragons. Cuentin Bridges scored a game-high 22 points, Greg Hagins added 21 and Kurth Nelson dropped in 18.
The Dragons had a more balanced scoring attacks with five in double figures. John Rhett Covington netted 15, Justin Larrimore scored 12, Kyle Blair and Stephen Andrews both chipped in 11. John Beatty had 10 in the win.
Marlboro Academy led by as much as 15 points in the third quarter before Temple made a final push in the second half to make things interesting.
Trailing by 13 midway through the fourth period, the Tigers cut the deficit to six on one possession. Nelson was fouled on a scoop shot by Marlboro Academy’s Chase Bruger. On the call, Bruger was whistled for a technical foul. Nelson completed the old-fashion 3-point play and hit 1 of 2 free throws. Bridges finished out to 7-0 run by draining a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 53-47.
It was as close as Temple would get the rest of the way, despite Marlboro Academy missing five of its final six free throws in the final 38 seconds of the contest.
“Marlboro did what they needed to do, they attacked us inside,” Byrd said. “Plus we were a little flat-footed too.”
Temple falls to 16-4 with the loss and is scheduled to return to action in the second game of a doubleheader today at Bible Baptist in Monroe.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.