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SC takes county tournament title

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South Central and Ayden-Grifton battle for possession during the playoff game at Conley Thursday night.

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The Daily Reflector

Thursday, December 28, 2017

After a one-year absence from the Pitt County Holiday Tournament, South Central capped a triumphant return to the event Thursday night with another impressive victory.

The top-seeded Falcons weathered a tough first-half showing from No. 6 seed Ayden-Grifton before using a barrage of 3-pointers early in the third quarter to pull away for an 83-64 victory in the championship game.

The Falcons (10-0) participated in the Leon Brogden Holiday Tournament in Wilmington last season, but returned to Pitt County to claim this year's event at D.H. Conley with a resounding semifinal blowout of North Lenoir and a strong performance Thursday in which they dispatched a pesky A-G (6-4) team that trailed by just five points at halftime.

"It gives you the experience of winning trophies and winning tournaments, and you hope that's the first of many," SC coach Chris Cherry said. "We learned that we're a really good basketball team, but we still have a couple of levels we can go. We've got some things to improve on to get to where we want to get to.”

Guard Shykeim Phillips followed a 29-point showing Wednesday with a 23-point performance in the title game, 17 of which came in the second half. Those two performances netted him tournament MVP honors.

Teammate Day'ron Sharpe, who scored 24 in the finals, made the all-tournament team, along with Ayden-Grifton's James Richardson and Josiah Shackleford, J.H. Rose's Creighton Lebo and D.H. Conley's C.J. Johnson.

Sharpe and Phillips were joined in double figures against the Chargers by Tahj Riddick, who had 14 points and jumpstarted the decisive run with a 3-pointer 22 seconds into the third quarter to push SC's lead to eight.

A jumper from Sharpe and 3s by Phillips and Jahzeer Baker made it an 11-0 run to force an A-G timeout less than two minutes into the quarter. By the 4:40 mark of the third, the Falcons had made it a 22-4 run and turned a five-point halftime advantage into a 23-point lead.

"We kind of let them off the hook with the fouls in the first half," Cherry said. "They kept getting to the line in the double bonus, so we couldn't pressure them as much. I like to say fouling negates hustle and it negated a lot in the first half, but the third quarter we came out with a lot of energy."

Ayden-Grifton mounted one final charge, whittling that lead down to 10 points early in the fourth. South Central turned on the jets again, outscoring the Chargers 24-15 in the final six minutes to pull away.

Shackleford and Justice Barber led A-G with 13 points apiece. Leontae Moye had 12 and Richardson added 11, but Chargers coach John-Kyle Moye was left to wonder what-if in regards to South Central's third-quarter eruption.

"Those guys are relentless," Moye said of the Falcons. "They just keep coming at you and coming at you, and it overwhelms you sometimes, but I thought our guys did a good job of weathering the storm some and cutting it down to (10).

"If we just could have played defense in the third quarter, I think we would have been able to give ourselves a better shot, but they knocked down 3 after 3 after 3, and it took us completely out of the game."

Jordan Anders

J.H. Rose 66, North Lenoir 59

No. 2 seed J.H. Rose had the late edge and won its losers’ bracket game thanks in part to North Lenoir’s missed free throws and turnovers.

The fourth-seeded Hawks led by nine at the end of the first quarter, but the Rampants (9-3) set the tone in the second quarter with a 9-0 run to tie the game, 24-24. JHR trailed for the majority of the contest, but took advantage of nine made 3-pointers to rally and win.

Tymize Barnhill scored a game-high 20 points and Creighton Lebo had 15 for JHR. North Lenoir had four players to score double-digit points: Chrishawn Mitchell (14), William Sargeant (11), Timmy Haerer (10) and Keontae Kittrell (10).

D.H. Conley 62, North Pitt 58

A free throw by C.J. Johnson in the closing seconds helped Conley put away North Pitt in the losers’ bracket.

Johnson's free throw helped DHC (7-4) close out its second win over the Panthers (6-5) this season. The Vikings rallied from a third-quarter deficit to lead by two points heading to the fourth, and they never trailed in the final eight minutes.

Johnson finished with 20 points, Fuller Lawson had 12 and Lashawn Owens added 10 for Conley. Dequan Hines had 21 points and Ke’Patrique Best 15 for NP.

Corey Jones

In Mount Olive

Parrott Academy’s boys’ basketball team is playing in the Mount Olive Winter Classic and it dropped a close contest, 63-60, to South Lenoir in opening-round action.

Parrott (6-4) got 18 points and seven rebounds from AJ Banker. The rest of the team’s scorers were: Kris Wooten – 12 (5 Assists), Caleb Jones – 9, Matthew Huntley – 8, Nick Harrison – 6, Trey McLawhorn – 5, Connor Bright - 2.

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