Kinston pulls away, tops A-G
By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
LITTLEFIELD — At full strength, Ayden-Grifton appeared poised to claim a key conference victory over Kinston at home Tuesday night.
With the subtraction of one important player, the Chargers watched that potential win go up in smoke.
A-G faltered late in a tight game after point guard James Richardson fouled out in the fourth quarter, watching Kinston go on the game-sealing run in the final minutes of a 68-60 victory over the Chargers.
Richardson picked up his fifth foul with 6:41 to play and A-G leading 49-47. With him out of the game, the Vikings (8-2, 4-0 Eastern Carolina 2-A) took advantage and outscored Ayden-Grifton 21-11 after the guard’s departure.
“When James went out ... that was one of the big keys for us,” Chargers coach John-Kyle Moye said. “That’s our point guard, and that kind of hurt us. We needed somebody to step up and take control, and the guys who came in did a good job, but we had a couple of key turnovers down there.”
Richardson, a sophomore, only scored nine points, but serves as A-G’s primary ballhandler. With him out of the game, Kinston turned up the defensive pressure and caused the Chargers to struggle to get the ball past half court.
Jekael Gay had a pair of baskets in the minute following the loss of Richardson, including a layup that provided the game’s final tie at 53-53, but the Chargers (6-5, 2-1) could muster just two more buckets in the final five minutes. They were outscored 15-7 in that span.
Sophomore big man Josiah Shackleford dominated at times, scoring a team-high 22, but just one of those points came in the fourth quarter as Ayden-Grifton’s advantage in the post disappeared in the face of its guard play.
Of those 22, 14 came in a first half that saw the Chargers lead by as many as eight. They took a 31-28 advantage to the break, but saw that lead slip away as Shackleford’s production slowed and Kinston guard Damian Dunn heated up. He scored 20 of his game-high 34 in the second half, accounting for exactly half of the Vikings’ points after intermission.
“I thought we were doing what we wanted to, getting (Shackleford) the ball as much as possible,” Moye said. “I thought defensively we were playing pretty well in the first half, but they made some adjustments in the second half offensively that kind of hurt us, in particular us not rebounding. We didn’t rebound at all in the second half. They got second and third shots that really cost us.”
Gay’s 10 points made him the only other A-G scorer in double figures.
The winless Chargers trailed by just five points at halftime, but Kinston turned up the heat in the second half and ran off with the win.
A-G (0-10, 0-3) was led by six points apiece from Cedaria Little and Latavia Brown. The Chargers went to halftime trailing 23-18, but the Vikings (13-1, 3-0) pulled away after outpacing A-G 13-2 in the third quarter.
Contact Jordan Anders at email@example.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.