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North Lenoir downs Chargers, 68-53

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North Lenoir's Kanijah Taylor passes the ball during a game against Ayden-Grifton on Jan. 11, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector

Friday, January 11, 2019

Turnovers and poor shooting sank the Ayden-Grifton girls basketball team against North Lenoir Friday night, 68-53. 

“We came out really flat early and turned the ball over a lot,” Chargers head coach Charles Kessel said. “That gave them easy points and put us in a hole. We battled back the rest of the night, played them almost even. We just dug ourselves a hole. I wish I could hit the reset button and start the game over.” 

The Chargers (4-8, 2-2) received a fantastic effort from Zy’kierah Andrews, who finished with 21 points. Kristen Hardee and Cedaria Little both added nine points in the loss. 

The Hawks jumped out to an early lead, stringing together a 15-0 run in the first quarter to give them a comfortable 19-4 advantage. A-G committed numerous turnovers, providing plenty of fast break opportunities, which the Hawks happily converted into buckets. Along with turnovers, the Chargers couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the basket, making just four baskets for eight points in the quarter. 

Rebounding was also an issue for the Chargers, as they failed to box out tall forwards Kanija Taylor (21 points) and Integrity McPhail (20 points). 

The Hawks took a dominating 40-19 lead into halftime, as Kessel and his staff tried to find the adjustments needed to get back into the game.

After their return to the court, the tempo and pace seemed to remain the same in the third quarter, with NL quickly stringing together an 8-0 run to push their lead to 50-21. The tide then began to shift, as energy returned to the Chargers bench. 

“We started executing and using what we’ve learned in practice,” Kessel said. “The last (second) quarter we tried to do a little more individual. When we started working together as a team we started to move the ball a little bit better. It was just that they put the effort into executing our offense better.” 

Down 56-26, the Chargers began a fourth quarter run that quickly pulled them back into the game. It was Andrews who led the charge, scoring 10 points as part of a 16-0 run that made the score 58-41. 

It was just too little, too late, as the remaining time was just not enough to complete the comeback. 

The Chargers won’t return to the court until Jan. 18 when they host West Craven. 

Boys game 

Ayden-Grifton 80, North Lenoir 72

Jordan Atkinson was in the spotlight of the Chargers (6-7, 3-1) 80-72 win, as he surpassed 1,000 career points as he finished with a game-high 21 points in the win.

“It feels good,” Atkinson said. “I give God all the glory. I want to thank my teammates for always pushing me.” 

With 1:42 left in the fourth quarter, up 74-67, Atkinson stepped to the free throw line with a grand total of 999 career points. After taking a second to prepare, he easily made the free throw, sending the gym into applause and cheers. After making his second shot, he was welcomed back into the huddle with high-fives and congratulations from coaches and teammates. He also received a commemorative ball marking the occasion.

A-G also saw great nights from Nathaniel Harris, who finished with 19 points, and Moses Tufts, who had 13. 

The Chargers play next on Jan. 18 when they host West Craven. 

Contact Jake Keator at jkeator@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.

BOYS BASKETBALL

D.H. Conley 59, J.H. Rose 58

In a classic showdown between two crosstown rivals, it’s only right that the game goes down to the last second. D.H. Conley and J.H. Rose did so on Friday night.

Despite a great showing from coach James Rankins’ Rampants, it was Rob Maloney’s Vikings that escaped with a one-point win.

Senior guard Jahmois Barnhill hit the game-winning free throws with 0.1 seconds left to seal the deal for Conley (7-6) after he drew a foul on a mid-range jump shot.

“They’ve gotten a lot better since the Christmas tournament,” Maloney said about the Rampants. “Rose did a good job of keeping our offense out of sync. Jahmois had a big game and we were able to get him the ball in the biggest moment. He made a big play for us to get the free throws we needed to get out of here with a win. This was a very tough team and I’m happy we got the job done.”

After the Vikings stretched a lead out to five in the third quarter, the Rampants came back with a 6-0 run to take the lead.

But the Vikings grabbed back a one-point edge heading into the fourth. Then, the fireworks began.

Both schools student sections made the building shake as the teams continued to trade baskets. Silas James and Kevin Hamilton hit free throws to give the Rampants the lead, only for East Carolina football signee CJ Johnson to give the Vikings the lead back.

Rampants freshman forward Aaron Murphy hit a go-ahead free throw with 10 seconds left. After advancing the ball and taking a timeout, however, Barnhill drew a foul in the act of shooting with his team down one. He calmly sank both free throws to send the Vikings student section into a frenzy.

Barnhill finished with 21 points and Johnson added 17 for the Vikings. Murphy had 22 points to lead all scorers for the Rampants. Four other Rose players scored seven points apiece.

“I felt like if I drove hard, the defense was going to collapse,” Barnhill said. “Then, I was able to draw the foul. My teammates and coaches had confidence in me to get the job done in a big moment. Free throws are an important part of the game and it was awesome to win like that. Next week, we’re gonna have to compete hard in practice because we’re not gonna take a backseat to anyone. It’ll be an important week for sure.”

The Vikings and Rampants traded baskets for most of the first quarter, and Conley led 15-10 at the end of one.

Rose took the lead midway through the second with a run of stops and easy baskets.

Conley scored at the buzzer to take a 29-28 lead to halftime.

“There is a team-first identity with us right now,” Rankins said after the game. “We’re not happy with the outcomes we’ve had recently, but there is progression for sure. I think there’s a lot of promise being shown. We want to be better as conference play continues to take shape. In the end, it’s tough to win in this conference and this team will be tested a lot the rest of the way.”

Conley faces Southern Wayne next Friday night while Rose faces Eastern Wayne.

— Laieke Abebe

Farmville Central 84, North Johnston 47

The state's ninth-ranked Farmville Central boys improved to 14-0 with a resounding victory over North Johnston.

Four Jaguar starters had already reached double digits in points by halftime, when North Johnston had only 24 points as a team. The Panthers were without their leading scorer, Savon Foye, for the first game this season, and fell behind from the buzzer.

Farmville opened the game with a 21-0 run, including three 3-pointers and two dunks before North Johnston sank a shot. The healthy Panthers starters failed to step up, with their third and fourth leading scorers combining for just three points in the first half.

Foye is tied for the tallest player on the North Johnston team at just 6-foot-2. With FC front court starters at 6-6 (Dy’Quavis Wilkins) and 6-7 (Leontae Moye), the Jaguars enjoyed a marked rebounding advantage. Second-chance baskets were a major contributor to Farmville’s dominance while the starters were on the court.

Jaguar junior guard Samage Teel drained four 3s, while Justin Wright scored 21 points. Wright, the Pitt County player of the year last year as a sophomore, has multiple Division I offers, and has been recruited by top-notch academic schools, including Princeton and Yale. Sophomore Terquavion Smith, who was offered by N.C. State in the offseason, added 13 points, including a pair of dunks. Wilkins, a senior transfer from St. Paul Catholic, scored 14 with two dunks of his own.

The Jaguar starters saw little playing time in the second half.

North Johnston saw a respectable performance by speedy 5-8 point guard Justin Vann, who led the team with 13 points. Vann knocked down just his third 3 of the season, while going 5-of-6 at the line and scoring on several fast breaks.

Senior forward Rakuan Rodrigues contributed nine, Dayland Hinnant eight and Bernard Moore seven. Farmville Central coach Larry Williford said he expected no less from the team.

“I thought tonight was a great carryover from how competitive our practices have been,” he said. “We focused on how we were playing, not who we were playing.”

The team had had a week and a half off, and has another upcoming break for exams. Williford also credited his player’s passing.

“We shared the basketball well tonight,” he said. “I think we had 29 assists through the first three quarters, which is really sharing the basketball.”

– Matthew Edwards

South Central 83, New Bern 18

No. 20 nationally ranked South Central (13-1, 4-0) breezed past New Bern Friday night.

It was light work for head coach Chris Cherry’s squad, who took an early 32-2 lead after the first quarter and cruised to the win. It was SC’s third straight victory, with the team’s only loss coming in the John Wall Invitational Tournament in December.

The Falcons will return to the court Jan. 18, when they travel to face C.B. Aycock. 

Greene Central 56, South Lenoir 48

Greene Central held off a late surge from South Lenoir to take the win. 

Star forward Imajae Dodd sat out the game due to injury, but the Rams (11-5, 5-0) racked up their fourth straight win, pushing them up the table in the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference. 

They are back in action Jan. 15 when they travel to take on West Craven. 

 

GIRLS BASKETBALL

D.H. Conley 47, J.H. Rose 43

Conley versus Rose lived up to the hype of a crosstown conference rivalry in the girls clash.

Despite the Rampants leading for most of the game, it was the Vikings who came out victorious, improving them to 10-1 and dropping Rose to 0-12.

“There were a lot of teachable moments,” Vikings head coach Shawn Moore said. “We had to make some adjustments with the lineup and the tempo. Ania Sands was controlling the game so we had to adjust to the pace. We executed when we had to that’s what got us over the hump tonight. They played really well and we really had to earn this game.”

Conley got some early momentum in the third quarter, but Rose was able to stay in front with timely outside shooting and defensive stops. The Rampants led 32-26, but Conley got it going when it counted.

A 7-0 run by the Lady Vikings gave them a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter. From there, the lead changes began to pile up, but Rose’s heroics were outdone by Johnson.

She and the Vikings ended up with the last laugh as she hit a huge three to basically put the ball away in the last two minutes. Despite Roses attempts to tie or take the lead, Jenna Wooten iced the game with two free throws to provide the final scoring margin.

“I saw a wide-open shot,” Kiara Johnson said about her dagger 3-pointer in the final two minutes of regulation. “The team needed some confidence so I stepped into it. We were in a tough spot throughout the entire team. We kept a positive attitude and we got the job done. In the end, we had to really work for our shots. No matter what, we have to give 150 percent every game because it’s not easy to win in this conference.”

Kamya Brown led the Rampants with 13 points and Sands added 12.

For the Vikings, Johnson had eight points, but six of those came in the clutch minutes at the end. Jenna Wooten scored 19 points to lead all scorers.

The first quarter saw Rose take control of the game, but Conley fought back to make it an even contest. The Rampants were looking for their first win of the season and were motivated against their conference rivals from across town. Rose led 12-11 at the end of one.

While the Rampants tried to stretch their lead, Conley adjusted with a little bit of full-court pressure to stay in the game.

Hustle plays were key in how well Mark Johnson’s Rampants played in the first half.

The matchup between Rampants sophomore guard Sands and Vikings guard Kiara Johnson was as good as advertised. In the end, Lady Rampants led 24-22 at halftime despite controlling the first half for the most part.

Rose faces Eastern Wayne on the road next Friday night and Conley hosts Southern Wayne on the same night.

“I think we got a little tired and we made some crucial mistakes,” Johnson said. “We did miss a lot of easy shots and we had a few defensive breakdowns. (Johnson) is an excellent shooter and you can’t leave her open. I’m proud of our effort tonight and our seniors led us throughout the game. We’ve been getting better every day and today they deserved a better result than they got.”

– Laieke Abebe

Farmville Central 63, North Johnston 17

Farmville's girls also triumphed over North Johnston, which entered the game 9-2.

The Jags dominated the rebound margin and flustered North Johnston with solid perimeter defense. Farmville Central was led by point guard Rashya Speight, who scored 12 points, followed by forward Janiya Foskey with 10, and JeShyra Carmon with eight.

Center Amiya Joyner scored eight points, while consistently rebounding over shorter opponents. Joyner also contributed four blocks and three assists, all while sitting for most of the second half.

Sophomore Arial Pearce led the Panthers with five points.

– Matthew Edwards 

North Pitt 48, Beddingfield 31

An 18-point outing for Ashanti Hines led the North Pitt Panthers (9-5,1-0) to a victory over conference foe Beddingfield Friday night. 

NP also received help from Casandra Watson, who posted eight points. 

The Panthers will be back in action Jan. 18 when they travel to face SouthWest Edgecombe. 

MIDDLE SCHOOLS

Hope girls 46, PS Jones 35

Hope Middle Schools girls basketball team remained undefeated as Kylah Silver’s 18 points pushed the Mustangs to a 46-35 win over PS Jones Thursday.

Karma May also pitched in 10 points in the victory. The team will travel to take on Farmville on Monday. 

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