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Jaguars pounce (again)

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Farmville Central's Justin Wright drives past Vance County players during a playoff game on March 5, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Mitchell Thomas
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Farmville Central boys basketball continues to be dominant, and the Jaguars will advance to the 2-A East Region final after defeating Vance County, 85-75 Tuesday night in Farmville.

The win sets up a fourth showdown this season against familiar rival Greene Central, which also advanced on Tuesday.

Farmville junior guard Justin Wright didn't waste any time making his presence felt, scoring 12 points in the first quarter to get the Jaguars going.

The FC defense created havoc for Vance County's backcourt all night, as it came away with 10 first half steals as a team, leading to a 41-26 lead at the half.

FC's Samage Teel (28 points) and Wright (32) stole the show, as they were responsible for over half of the team’s scoring.

“It felt good,” Teel said about his performance. “I credit my teammates for getting me open. We just gotta keep playing defense and playing as one (to get to a state championship).”

In the second half, the Jags started hot again and raced out to a 22-7 run, extending their lead to 69-41 at the end of the third quarter.

“I thought Justin and Samage were spectacular.” FC head coach Larry Williford said. “It was a gritty game. I thought Terquavion (Smith) carried us against Kinston, but tonight the other two stepped up on both ends of the court. We're very fortunate to have three really good guards. But who would you rather play next than your rival (Greene Central)?”

Farmville will find out Wednesday what time it will play the Rams in the regional final, and if they will be placed in ECU's Minges Coliseum.

Greene Central 90, Hertford County 57

After wins over Beddingfield, South Granville and First Flight to start the playoffs, Greene Central was one win away from a third straight trip to the 2-A East regional final. The Rams certainly left no doubt in their fourth round matchup against Hertford County on Tuesday.

After playing a close first quarter, Greene Central turned on the jets a 90-57 win over the Bears in front of a great crowd at the Ram Pen. Imajae Dodd and company have worked their way back to the regional championship by bouncing back from a tough loss to Kinston in the conference title game two weeks ago.

“It means a lot to get this win,” the UNCW signee said. “We just have to be prepared for Saturday. From here, it’s about taking it one day at a time.”

The first half featured a lot of balance from Theodore “Blue” Edwards’ squad. B.J. Corbitt got the Rams started with a quick drive to the basket. Dodd then got the crowd going with a few of his signature, rim-rattling dunks.

Junior forward Kentrell Suggs continued his stellar play during the postseason with creativity off the bench. However, a first quarter buzzer beater from the Bears cut the Rams lead to three going into the second quarter.

Then, Hertford County blinked and Greene Central was off to the races in the second quarter. Hysaan Hudson got in on the action with a couple of nice drives to the hoop. Dodd, Donte Johnson, and Jekael Gay used great ball movement and teamwork to get a layup late in the second quarter.

To cap it off, Corbitt hit a three at the halftime buzzer to give the Rams a 46-27 halftime lead.

“I have a better understanding of my players,” Edwards said. “Once I see that they’re working hard, I can trust them in big spots. There’s been great development in a lot of my players. We had players struggling with roles early in the season, but they’ve grown into great players and great people.”

Although the Bears played hard, the Rams still led 63-41 at the end of the third. Corbitt continued to keep the team composed while running the offense for the Rams.

“Coach [Edwards] trusts me with the basketball,” the junior point guard said. “It gives me confidence when my coaches and teammates can put me in good spots to succeed. Our defense leads to offense, and we should be alright if we keep giving a great effort on that end.”

Dodd and Corbitt played excellent, but they weren’t alone in their endeavors. The entire Rams Roster got a chance to shine in the team’s last home game of the season.

There were a lot of great moments, but the best of them all may have been Rams senior Donnie Finch knocking down a three that brought the house down near the end of the game.

“I’m so happy for him,” Dodd said of Finch’s shot. “I’m proud of him and he deserved that moment.”

Donte Johnson got his 1,000th point in his final home game and put the exclamation point on the game with an emphatic dunk late in the fourth quarter. Dodd led Greene Central with 26 points and Corbitt added 25 points. Hudson also finished in double figures with 11 for the Rams.

“It’s amazing,” Johnson said of reaching the milestone. “It was great to give the fans one last show. Getting my 1,000th point in front of the home crowd means a lot to me. If we can stick to our pace and game plan, we’ll be in a good spot this weekend.”

This one is the biggest of them all as a regional title and state championship appearance are on the line. Larry Williford’s team defeated the Rams in each of the first three meetings, but it wasn’t easy.

One of those wins was a memorable 77-71 overtime win in the Pitt County Christmas tournament title game.

— Laieke Abebe

GIRLS 2-A

Farmville Central 64, N.C. Math and Sciences 24

The Farmville Central full-court press was no match for the Unicorns of North Carolina School of Math and Sciences. The Jaguars ripped 12 first half steals away to set the tone in a blowout win Tuesday night in Farmville.

Jaguars' junior point guard Rashya Speight had four steals in the first quarter that played a big part in a 16-2 run to begin the game.

A 40-minute delay ensued at the 1:08 mark of the first quarter, as paramedics tended to a man that collapsed in the stands. CPR was performed and he was transported to a local hospital.

That didn't slow down FC though, as the second quarter was much of the same for the Jags, as Jordan Joyner (17 points) and Zion Shepard (eight) both drained a couple of 3s to widen the margin before the halftime break, leading 35-14.

The second half mirrored the first, as the Jags defense suffocated the Unicorns and FC capitalized, collecting 20 total steals as a team.

Junior Forward Ja'Shyran Carmon also racked up 11 points, five rebounds and a couple of assists on the evening, and she was elated about her team's upcoming trip to Greenville.

“We're about to go to ECU, we got one step left.” Carmon said. “I was just ready to play tonight, we all want that ring.”

The Jaguars will take a trip down to ECU on Saturday to play Kinston in the East Region final. The time will be determined today.

“I say it every time. Defense wins ball games.” FC head coach Hollis Harper said. “My kids keep playing defense, creating turnovers, and that’s what worked on them.”

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