HOOPS PREVIEW: Regional Finals
By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector
Friday, March 8, 2019
Each bracket began with 32 teams, and while most have fallen, four local teams remain in contention to represent the east in the state championships on March 16. Here is a look at how each team stacks up to its competition ahead of this afternoon’s games in East Carolina’s Minges Coliseum.
2-A East Region Final
No. 1 Farmville Central vs No. 2 Greene Central (2p.m.)
Farmville Central head coach Larry Williford told The Daily Reflector Tuesday he thought he and the Jaguars would meet up with the Greene Central Rams in the regional final. The two have met three other times this season, with the undefeated Jaguars winning every matchup.
FC sports one of the best backcourts in the state in the dynamic duo of Justin Wright and Terquavion Smith. Both have solid jump shots and possess the handles and speed to quickly move the ball in transition. Making up the rest of the starting rotation are swingman Semage Teel and big men Leonte Moye and Dyquavis Wilkins. Wilkins’ ability to space the floor with his own jump shot has proven valuable in opening up other offensive opportunities for teammates, while the group’s difficult zone defense can force shooters into bad positions.
Rams head coach Blue Edwards has the Rams in the regional final for the third straight season, led by UNC Wilmington commit Imajae Dodd, who looks to end an historic career with a state championship. Dodd’s defensive skill opens up options for GC’s top shooters, Hysaan Hudson and Jakeal Gay. Also down low, Donte Johnson uses his size and agility to attack the glass.
PREDICTION: Farmville Central picks up the season sweep of the Rams, as Dodd and Johnson end storied careers in Snow Hill.
4-A East Region Final
No. 1 Millbrook vs No. 3 South Central (6 p.m.)
In what could be the most anticipated game in the state Saturday, the Falcons will take on top-seeded Millbrook.
Coming off an upset of No. 2 Wakefield in Raleigh on Tuesday night, SC looks to be in prime position to advance to yet another state final.
While the play of Shykeim Phillips and Day’Ron Sharpe is an attraction in itself, others such as Jahzeer Baker and Shy’Quan Jones have continued to rise to the occasion in the postseason. Baker, Jones, Phillips and Sharpe will match up against Millbrook stars Phillip Burwell (15 points per game) and Collin Lewis (11 PPG).
PREDICTION: SC’s depth off the bench and airtight defense propel the Falcons into the title game.
No. 1 Farmville Central vs No. 3 Kinston (Noon)
The FC girls also will face off against a rival in the regional final, three seed Kinston. The two sides have not played one another this season, but are all too familiar with one another.
The key to the Jaguars’ success has been in the post with senior Je’Shyra Carmon and breakout freshman Amiya Joyner. Joyner possesses the length to block shots and the handles to quickly push the ball up the floor. Guard Jordan Joyner is also coming off a stellar performance in the fourth round against NC School of Science and Math.
Kinston barely advanced in round four, needing a last-second shot to defeat Ledford Senior.
PREDICTION: Farmville Central rolls over Kinston into the state final.
Contact Jake Keator at email@example.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.
D.H. Conley 14, Ayden-Grifton 9
Conley overturned an early 4-2 Chargers lead, using a key five-run fourth inning to create the necessary breathing room to outlast the visitors.
Austin Jones, Brandon Benfield and Blake McLawhorn each drove in a pair of runs in the loss for A-G, while Jackson Upchurch had two hits.
D.H. Conley 11, Corinth Holders 1 (5 inn.)
The Vikings cruised to a win in five innings over Corinth Holders on Thursday. Anna Sawyer (3-4, 2B, HR) led the way from the plate for DHC. Others having strong outings included Madison Rose (3-3, 2B), Maggie Craig (2-3, 3 Rs HR) and Alexis Phillips (1-4, 2 Rs, HR).
Pitcher Lauren Wiles picked up the win, giving up no hits, two walks and the Pirates’ only earned run.
South Central 23, J.H. Rose 0
South Central’s explosive offense continued to shine in a blowout of rival J.H. Rose on Thursday.
Senior Amaya Evans was the head of the charge, finishing the day 2-for-2, hitting a home run, scoring two runs and knocking in five RBIs. Jessica Purcell (3-3, 3 Rs, RBI), Amyah Coleman (3 Rs), Sarah Elbeing (1-3, 3 Rs), and Anna Mewborn (1-1, 3 Rs, 3 RBIs) also had strong performances.
South Central 10, West Carteret 0
SC used 11 hits to down West Carteret on Wednesday afternoon. Purcell led the way, going 3-for-4, driving in three runs. Coleman scored three runs on the night to help provide a large amount of the team’s offense.
D.H. Conley 5, C.B. Aycock 1
Conley got singles victories from Sean Jung, Drew Varnell, Connor Whitehurst Will Vodicka and Lawernce Mavarro on Thursday night to remain undefeated.
DHC (3-0, 2-0) will host New Bern Tuesday.
D.H. Conley 6, Wilson Fike 0
DHC defated Wilson-Fike in a nonconference matchup Wednesday. Ashley Tucker led the way with two goals, while goalie Maeve English earned the shutout.