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Jags top Chargers in thriller

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Farmville Central player Justin Wright tries to dribble past a Ayden Grifton player during a game Tuesday evening.

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

FARMVILLE — Tuesday night’s boys’ basketball game between Ayden-Grifton and Farmville Central had all the momentum swings and excitement of a heavyweight bout.

The taller Chargers landed numerous body blows to their smaller opponents, but it was the Jaguars that withstood the onslaught, went the distance and escaped with the win.

In a contest that featured eight ties and 18 lead changes, Farmville Central used a late flurry of big shots to score a 77-71 victory in the matchup of Pitt County foes.

The Jags (4-1) had to rally from a 10-point first-half deficit, finding ways to score against a lanky, athletic Chargers team that patrolled the rim in the first two quarters and made it difficult for coach Larry Williford’s team to get anything easy in the paint.

“I thought we grew up,” Williford said. “We’re so young, starting a freshman point guard (Dontavious Short) and a freshman wing (Terquavion Smith). Things have come a little easy to us early on, but I thought tonight (Ayden-Grifton) came out and popped us in the mouth early.

“I told them at halftime, ‘We’re going to see what we got inside our chest right here in the second half,’ and we had some guys step up and make some big defensive plays, we rebounded the ball even though we’re undersized, and guys made shots.”

A-G (1-1) used its size advantage early, blocking five shots in the first four minutes to establish the tone. The Chargers’ roster features three players 6-foot-5 or taller, including 6-8 leading scorer Josiah Shackleford, who scored a team-high 21 points and threw down a couple of dominant dunks.

But the Jaguars had four double-figure scorers, led by Smith’s 21. The freshman hit five 3-pointers, including a pair in the fourth quarter that proved to be the pivotal buckets to buy FC breathing room down the stretch.

His first of the period with 3:55 left produced the game’s 16th lead change, putting the Jags up 62-61. He tied the game with this final bucket, a triple that knotted the score, 65-65, with 2:38 left.

Sophomore Justin Wright’s jumper with 2:15 left broke that tie and put Farmville ahead for good, part of a 12-3 run that saw FC build a lead as large as nine in the waning seconds before Shackleford hit a 3 with five seconds to play that made the final margin.

Smith’s hot shooting was part of a second half that saw FC hit five of its eight 3-pointers for the night, helping to negate some of A-G’s advantage at the rim.

“You’ve just got to continue to attack,” Williford said. “First-pass 3s will kill you and I thought we took way too many of those in the first half. I thought the ball movement was a lot better in the second half. We had guys attacking and some of those guys were wide open with those 3s, and you’ve got to take those.”

Rande Harper (18 points) and Kam McNeill (12) were also in double figures for FC.

Ayden-Grifton also placed four players in double figures — Leontae Moye (19), Jordan Atkinson (11) and Jakael Gay (10), in addition to Shackleford’s 21 — but a strong offensive showing wasn’t enough to overcome some key miscues late.

“We turned the ball over too much,” coach John-Kyle Moye said. “We didn’t control their pressure very well, which is something we should have been able to do because we had the right guards we wanted in the game. It was just a couple of bad possessions, bad shot selections a couple of times, then defensive miscues and not guarding who we were supposed to be on. That was our downfall.”

GIRLS

Farmville Central 58, Ayden-Grifton 27

In what was a three-point game after one quarter, Farmville Central outscored Ayden-Grifton 18-0 in the second quarter to run away with a victory.

The Jaguars (4-1) were led by Ra’shaya Speight’s 11 points and Lauryn Pitt’s 10. Cedaria Little (7) was the leading scorer for the winless Chargers (0-4).

JV BOYS

Farmville Central 75, Ayden-Grifton 61

Record: FC 5-0.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

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