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Defense, Council carry Spartans to a big week

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SMITHFIELD — The Smithfield-Selma varsity boys basketball team got three straight wins last week, as the Spartans are 3-2 for the first time since 2015 when the team won 17 games, the most wins in a single season since at least 2006.

SSS beat Southern Nash, 67-64, on Dec. 4 and then won at home against Wilson Beddingfield, 69-58, on Thursday. And on Friday night, Smithfield-Selma capped off the week with a revenge-win over Corinth Holders, 65-39.

The hallmark for SSS has been its high-energy defense and the play of senior point guard Anthony Council. Council averaged 31 points in the three games last week and is currently averaging 28 a game for the season. 

“Anthony is huge, he’s our senior leader, as he goes, we go,” Smithfield-Selma head coach Matt Cuddington said about the 5-foot-10 senior. “Offensively of course, he’s always been a threat since he’s been here, but he actually is stepping up on the defensive end. The guys feed off of that too.”

The defense has held every team under 64 points, except for Corinth-Holders (4-2) in the season-opener. Cuddington said if his team is going to continue the good start, defense will have to continue to be energetic.

“That’s our heart, that’s our blood, that’s our life source, that’s our energy and if we’re not like that, we’re not going to be successful,” Cuddington said. “We have to play with a certain bounce, with a certain energy level especially on the defensive end, every single time we play.”

Junior center Sha’kerr Howard has also been big in the middle as he is averaging 12 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

Council said the key for the 3-A Greater Neuse River Conference Spartans to continue succeeding will be staying together on the court.

“To be successful we have to play together,” Council said. “Just be a family.”