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Jags take title in OT

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Farmville Central's Samage Teel, left, high-fives teammate Terquavion Smith during their championship win against Greene Central at Rose on Dec. 28, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Laieke Abebe
The Daily Reflector

Friday, December 28, 2018

Despite trailing by 12 points at halftime, Farmville Central resembled a great team. The Jaguars found a way to fight back.

The Jaguars (13-0) defeated Greene Central, 77-71, in overtime at J.H. Rose on Friday to win the Pitt County boys’ basketball Christmas tournament. It is their third Christmas title in four seasons, and it was the third win this year against the rival Rams (7-5).

“We have to give them a lot of credit,” Jags coach Larry Williford said. “We knew it was going to be tougher the third time around. I told them at halftime we’re gonna learn a lot about ourselves in the second half. A lot of players stepped up tonight and I’m so happy for the guys. Now we have to prepare for conference now that this is under our belt.”

It wasn’t easy for the Jaguars in this game. Led by UNC Wilmington signee Imajae Dodd, the Rams controlled the first half with ease. Former ECU basketball great Blue Edwards, GC’s first-year coach, had his team prepared from the start, but Williford’s team was equal to the challenge in the second half and overtime.

“We weren’t at our best in the first half,” Williford said. “The game wasn’t played at our pace, but we did well in transition as the game went on. Our second half defense was excellent. We want to be great enough to get a top seed when (state playoff) time comes around. It was a great experience for us and we’re ecstatic that we were able to win this tournament.”

D.H. Conley won the third-place game, defeating North Lenoir 63-54.

Samage Teel was named the tournament’s most valuable player after 19 points versus Greene Central. Justin Wright added 20 for the Jaguars, while Dodd scored 17.

“I have great teammates that always look for me,” Teel said. “The game was tough since we were down most of the game. I’m glad that we’re able to come together as a team in this game. As the season goes, we’ll learn to work on what we can control and not worry about others.”

While Teel thrived throughout the night, it was the play of Wright that got the team energized in the second half. Despite missing what would have been the game-winning shot in regulation, he came back and dominated the overtime period. Eight of FC’s points in OT were scored by the junior guard.

“We came together,” Wright said. “We just had to play our game and hustle and we got the job done. That’s a really good team, so we just had to focus to get over the hump. This team never got down when we were trailing at halftime.”

Greene Central led 35-23 at halftime. It was up 46-45 going to the fourth quarter.

The Rams’ only losses this season are to Farmville and 4-A state championship contender South Central.

“We got impatient,” Edwards said of Friday’s defeat. “We knew that we’d see a lot of 1-3-1 (defense) and a lot of traps. There were many miscommunication problems in this game. Farmville turned it into a layup drill and they got back into the game. We regrouped we’ll and got to overtime, but we didn’t play tough enough and the team that plays the toughest usually wins. We weren’t reading the defense well most of the second half.

“I’m still proud of how we competed in this game and in this tournament.”

Edwards is hoping his squad can get back on track as teams statewide will shift back to the bulk of conference play.

“Our guard play has to be better,” he said. “The shot selection has to change and we want to let the game come to us. We want to take care of the basketball in the second half of the season.”

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