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Falcons, Jags sweep league titles

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South Central's Philisha Chen, left, and Ninevah Reddick celebrate after their win over D.H. Conley on Feb. 16, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Friday, February 16, 2018

Despite being a team in flux because of injuries, South Central’s girls’ basketball team was able to avenge its only league loss and bring home a conference tournament title in one swoop Friday night.

The No. 1 seed Falcons added a tournament crown to their Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference regular-season championship by toppling No. 2 seed D.H. Conley 59-43 on their home floor. It’s the second straight year SC (22-3) has won the tournament.

Three players scored in double figures for a South Central team that has lost starting point guard Anna Mewborn and post player Al’myra Brown for the season to knee injuries since Jan. 31. Brittany Gibbs scored a team-high 16 points, followed by Ninevah Reddick (14) and Kinnedy Lawrence (10).

With their shuffled roster, the Falcons stumbled in their last game of the regular season, falling to Conley by five points on the road. They reversed course Friday thanks in large part to a second-half performance in which they held DHC (18-9) without a basket for a nine-plus minute stretch that spanned the third and fourth quarters.

“Our girls are battling a lot of adversity right now, but they’re a resilient bunch and give them credit because they’re being very resilient right now,” SC coach Robert Duck said. “I thought our antennas were up tonight. When you get beat by a good opponent, you come back with a little bit more hunger and we saw that on the defensive end, especially on the boards.”

SC outscored Conley 17-7 in the third quarter to build on its 25-20 halftime advantage, then scored the first seven points of the fourth before eventually leading by as many as 23 in the closing minutes.

Kiara Johnson (17) and Mackena Batts (14) were Conley’s leading scorers.

BOYS

South Central 94

 J.H. Rose 44

South Central’s boys also followed a regular-season title with their second straight league tournament title, maintaining their perfect record while blasting No. 2 seed J.H. Rose for a third time this season.

The Falcons (24-0) got 20 points from sophomore big man Day’ron Sharpe for the second straight night, along with 19 from Shykeim Phillips and 17 from Luke Davis. SC scored the game’s first six points and never trailed.

A nearly hour-long first half saw South Central attempt a whopping 32 free throws, making 22 (68.8 percent). The Falcons finished 32-for-43 from the line, while Rose went 11-for-22. SC’s offense opened up in the third quarter, outscoring the Rampants 26-15 before dropping the hammer in the fourth.

“We played with a lot of energy, especially in that first stint in the third quarter,” Falcons coach Chris Cherry said. “We had a tough time early in the game adjusting to the way the game was being called. It was being called very tight and that’s something we’ve got to correct, but we played with a lot of energy and we did a good job of advancing and sharing the ball.

“Now we’ve got this part of it over with. Now it gets for real next week.”

Keonte’ Goodman and Creighton Lebo led Rose (18-8) with 15 and 11 points, respectively.

Both South Central teams are expected to have first-round byes in the 4-A playoffs and will be at home in the second round Thursday. 

Eastern Plains 2-A

Girls

FARMVILLE — Needing a victory to earn a playoff berth, No. 5 seed Farmville Central's girls capped an unlikely run through the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference tournament with a 63-46 win over No. 3 North Johnston.

Two nights after upsetting No. 1 seed and regular-season champion North Pitt, the Jaguars (14-9) owned the fourth quarter in the title game, holding North Johnston (18-6) to nine points and stretching their lead en route to the win.

“I’m real excited for these young ladies," FC coach Hollis Harper said. "You know if you look at our record, our record is bad in the conference. We came back and beat three strong, good teams and now we’re going to the playoffs, and we can win.”

With 2:15 left in the second quarter, Farmville Central led by two, but FC used a spurt out of halftime to push its lead to double figures.

Jordan Joyner had 18 points to lead Farmville. Monique Erazo had 14 and Ja’shyrah Carmon had 10 for NJ.

Corey Jones

Boys

FARMVILLE — Farmville Central's boys piled the boys' tournament title on top of their regular-season championship by knocking off No. 2 seed Nash Central 79-68.

The Jaguars took the title with three freshman and a sophomore on the floor for the majority of the game, playing against a team with only upperclassmen. Sophomore Justin Wright dropped 31 to help propel FC (19-3) to the win.

“They’re obviously a well-coached basketball team," FC coach Larry Williford said. "(It's the) first time we’ve been in the conference with them. Anytime you play somebody for the third time that is a well-coached team, it’s going to be tough.

"They took away some of the things that we had done previously. I thought they were ready for some of our traps, but credit to the guys that made plays. I’m just trying to put them in the right position to make big plays.”

The game was tight throughout, but FC, which won its 14th straight game, only trailed once in the early moments of the first quarter.

Corey Jones

WRESTLING

Pitt County will not have a wrestling state champion this year, as all seven local participants who reached Day 2 of the championship meet in Greensboro met defeat Friday.

Three county competitors reached the semifinals. North Pitt’s Sincere King (2-A, 145) and South Central’s Jerell Belcher (4-A, 195) each fell by a point in decisions, while North Pitt’s Khalic Everett (285) was bested by two points in overtime.

Carlos Barejas (North Pitt), Phifer Ozimek (J.H. Rose), Malik Perkins (Farmville Central) and Landon Stocks (Ayden-Grifton) each lost in the quarterfinals.

Numerous county wrestlers are still in the mix to potentially win out in the losers’ bracket and finish third in their weight classes. The state meet ends today.

FOOTBALL

Grizzard signs: One of Pitt County’s most easily recognizable football players signed this week to play at Garden City Community College.

Farmville Central guard Alvin Grizzard — all 6-foot-9, 340 pounds of him — was a Daily Reflector all-county selection the last two seasons and was a first-team all-conference pick in the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference last season.

Now, he’s headed 1,500 miles west to play for a program that won the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship in 2016.

“It’s something special. It’s a blessing and I couldn’t be here without my family,” he said. “I’m pretty stoked and ready to get there.”

Grizzard said his recruitment to Garden City didn’t start until late January, but he jumped at the opportunity to play for one of the NJCAA’s top programs.

He’s so excited, in fact, he’s not even worried about committing to play so far from his hometown.

“It’s going to be an experience, that’s for sure,” he said, chuckling.

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