KINGSPORT — How it arrived was irrelevant. Sullivan South won, finally.
Following a string of seven consecutive losses — three of which were decided in the final two minutes — the Rebels’ boys basketball team upstaged county rival Sullivan North 47-44 Wednesday night.
“The last few games at the end the results haven’t gone our way so this one is good for the kids,” South coach Mark Pendleton said.
With the win, the Rebels (9-16) completed a season sweep of North — although they had to sweat it out until the end.
A 10-point lead early in the fourth period soon dwindled to two following a methodical 8-0 surge from the Golden Raiders.
South had seen this scenario play out before. Over the past two weeks, the Rebels have witnessed late leads against Daniel Boone, Sullivan East and Sullivan Central disappear.
Here, they managed to stave off North (11-10) thanks mostly to foul shooting. South drained eight of 10 free throws during the final 30 seconds.
“We hit a few free throws down the stretch,” Pendleton said. “I think this result is really going to help us.”
Though the foul line played its part, defense proved equally noteworthy for the Rebels.
Relying mainly on straight man-to-man, South was able to eliminate the Raiders’ athleticism — particularly that of point guard Matt Williams. A day after recording 23 points and eight assists in a win over Chuckey-Doak, Williams could only manage seven points Wednesday.
His ineffectiveness left swingman Dustin Doran on his own. And though he finished with a game-high 24 points, it was little consolation to a team that had only three players score.
“It was just an ugly game,” North coach Mitch Cox said. “I thought we played hard physically, but mentally we just weren’t there.
“We relied on Dustin simply because the other guys couldn’t get anything done,” Cox added. “It wasn’t one of Matt’s better games. The other guys just were sluggish.”
Weston Carr and T.J. Blanken anchored South’s balanced attack, each finishing with nine points. Bailey Dick and Tyler Ashworth added seven apiece.
The Rebels host Big 9 Conference leader Dobyns-Bennett on Friday.
“You always want to try and get better each time out,” Pendleton said, “and I think we’re doing that.”
Unlike their opposite numbers, the South ladies had little trouble during a 64-32 romp.
A 17-2 start set the tone for the Lady Rebels (17-6), who hit seven 3-pointers during the first half.
“Makensey (Campbell) got us started,” South coach Josh Tate said. “If our shots are falling, we can beat anybody.”
Campbell scored 16 points, while Natalie Pickwell had 12. Samantha Williams, filling in at point guard, posted 17 points.
Guard Stephanie Crook led North (0-21) with 16 points.
Tate, already without starting point guard Ashley Johnson (knee), limited Grace Collins’ minutes because of flu-like symptoms.
“We’re trying to get everyone healthy,” Tate said. “We have to get healed up pretty quickly.”