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Wakefield stays clutch in conference opener against Rolesville

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RALEIGH - A big 3-point shot from Tommy Petruccione with 20 seconds left in the game gave Wakefield's boys basketball team the boost they needed to beat Rolesville 74-68 at home Friday Jan. 10.

Before that crucial bucket, Rolesville was hanging with Wakefield in a close one-possession game for most of the night. The Wolverines made their free throws when it counted to hold off the Rams.

"I told the guys to keep battling and keep playing together," Wakefield head coach Garrett Stevens said. "We were getting tired and worn out in the fourth quarter, but the guys held on."

Rolesville took the lead early to start the contest at Wakefield. The Rams held on to a narrow 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

Wakefield tied the game at halftime after making two free throws. Both teams went into the second half with a 28-28 score.

Rolesville opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run to give themselves a 38-30 lead. However, Wakefield did not give up so easily. The Wolverines clawed their way back into the game and took a 43-40 advantage. The high-scoring period led to a 51-48 advantage for Wakefield before the start of the final quarter.

In the fourth period, Wakefield went ahead 60-52. After trading baskets, Rolesville finally tied the game at 66-66 with 1:10 left in the contest. 

After Wakefield made a free throw, Rolesville took over on offense. The possession ended with a missed shot and Wakefield dribbled down the court. 

Wakefield's Brenon Rogers drove down the middle and then dumped off the pass to his teammate Petruccione in the corner. The senior shooting guard knocked down the outside shot, making it 70-66 with 20 seconds left in the game.

"Brenon brought the ball down the court and got it to me in the right spot," Petruccione said. "I got my feet set and I knew the shot was good as soon as I released it. I didn't doubt it for a second."

Rolesville only made one more basket after that big play, while Wakefield made four more free throws to extend their lead to 74-68 by the end of the night. It's the third game in a row Wakefield has won by single digits.

"We've had a lot of games go down to the wire, so we're used to it at this point," Petruccione said. "We just keep battling the whole game and never let up. Every night, someone else steps up for us."

Petruccione finished the night with 12 points and two made 3-pointers. He was one of six players who scored in double-digits for Wakefield. Rogers led the Wolverines with 18 points and four assists.

"I trust my teammates down the stretch," Rogers said. "I know they will come through. I talk to them throughout the game."

The biggest issue for Wakefield was Rolesville's Brandon Johnson. The senior forward made nine out of 11 field goals to score 24 points against the Wolverines. He was also a force inside with 13 rebounds. Stevens said slowing him down in the fourth quarter was the difference maker.

"We just wanted to make it tough on Brandon and maintain contact at all times," Stevens said. "We threw four different guys at him. He's explosive and has a nice touch."

With the loss, Rolesville dropped to 8-5 overall. In more recent news, the Rams rebounded with a huge 60-49 win over their rival Knightdale at home Tuesday to bump them up to 9-5 overall.

With the win, Wakefield improved to 9-4 overall. The defending NAC 6 conference champs are looking to improve as the season goes on.

"We have to work on our intensity and effort when playing conference games," Stevens said. "That's something that's been hit or miss for us."

Wakefield will play Corinth Holders at home Friday Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

"We just have to do what we've been doing," Rogers said. "Doing all the little things is going to put us on top."