Falcons roll into tourney finals
By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
South Central’s first-half performance against North Lenoir on Wednesday night had the look of a team coming off a long layoff and the Christmas holiday.
Its second-half performance had all the look of the team many in Pitt County have pointed to as a 4-A state championship contender.
The top-seeded Falcons shook off their holiday funk in a big way in the latter stages of their Pitt County Holiday Tournament semifinal against the Hawks, sprinting and dunking their way to an 80-31 victory to grab a spot in tonight’s championship game.
SC (9-0) will take on No. 6 Ayden-Grifton tonight at 7:30 p.m. at D.H. Conley. The Chargers upended J.H. Rose in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
The Falcons topped the 80-point mark for the fourth time in their last five games with a dominant second-half showing, but had to overcome a rough start in their first game since Dec. 19. North Lenoir (9-3) took advantage of some uncharacteristically lax defense and sloppy play to lead twice in the first quarter before South Central got into a rhythm in the second.
“I knew we wouldn’t play well in the first half offensively, but I was really disappointed with the way we played defense,” SC coach Chris Cherry said. “We missed some rotations that we haven’t missed all year, but I think that was more of a thing of not playing in almost a week and a half. In the second half, we played a lot better.”
SC outscored the Hawks 24-8 in the second quarter to take a 39-21 lead to halftime. As commanding as that performance was, it paled to what Cherry’s squad did in the second half.
The Falcons held NL to eight points in the third before a truly powerful showing in the fourth. South Central outpaced the Hawks 23-0 in the final eight minutes and scored the game’s last 25 points, many of them coming on fast breaks created by steals.
Guard Shykeim Phillips came within a possession of outscoring North Lenoir by himself, finishing with 29 points. Phillips made several electrifying plays, including one in which he lobbed the ball off the backboard to Day’ron Sharpe, who slammed home a dunk for two of his 18 points during the Falcons’ frantic fourth-quarter run.
“It was pretty fun,” Phillips said. “We picked up the energy and got the crowd involved. It was good.”
Ten South Central players scored. Tahj Riddick scored 12 as the team’s only other player in double figures.
Ayden-Grifton 72, J.H. Rose 66
Missed free throws and turnovers allowed this eight-lead change game to stay close before sixth-seeded Ayden-Grifton rallied and pulled away from No. 2 J.H. Rose to reach the finals.
The Chargers (6-3) reached the finals by outscoring Rose 16-10 in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter. A-G's size advantage in the paint helped it overcome allowing 19 points on 17 turnovers.
Both teams had four starters with double-digit points. Josiah Shackleford's 19 points led the Chargers, who got 17 apiece from Leontae Moye and James Richardson, and 10 from Jordan Atkinson.
Creighton Lebo went 1-for-7 in the first half for JHR (8-3), but came alive in the second, scoring 20 for a total of 23 points. Ben Harris had 15, and Tymize Barnhill and Keonte’ Goodman both had 10.
Farmville Central 77, D.H. Conley 60
Farmville Central spotted D.H. Conley the game's first lead with an early bucket, but the Jaguars quickly took over and pulled away to top the Vikings in the loser’s bracket.
The Jaguars (6-3) built a 20-plus point lead, only to see DHC storm back to within 10 behind four fourth-quarter 3-pointers from guard Jahmois Barnhill. FC closed the game on a 7-0 run to pull away and seal the win.
Freshman shooting guard Terquavion Smith paced FC with 26 points on 60 percent shooting, scoring 16 of those points in the first quarter. Senior Kameron McNeil had 15 points on 77 percent shooting and sophomore Justin Wright had 13 for the Jaguars.
Barnhill had 18 points and Lashawn Owens had 13 for the Vikings.