Warrior girls top West Craven
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 19, 2004 1:56 PM
Unsure of whether or not her team was practicing on Monday due to the inclement weather, Eastern Wayne's Sierra King missed her team's only day of preparation before Wednesday's first-round Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference Tournament clash with fifth-seed West Craven.
Her punishment was sitting the first period, but the junior guard responded.
King went on to punish the Lady Eagles for 20 points through the final three periods as the fourth-seed Lady Warriors defended their home floor with a 62-55 win in their Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tournament opening game.
The Lady Warriors, who improved to 11-11 overall, now move on to face rival Goldsboro at the Cougar Den tonight at 6 p.m. The Lady Cougars (24-1) are currently ranked fourth in the ihigh.com coaches/media poll and ran through the ECC unbeaten.
"We've got to play great, and they've got to play down. We've got to stop their guard play," Eastern Wayne coach Brent Holland said. "They've got the two best guards in the conference, and the've got a great post player."
King was far from alone in the win.
Senior center Jessy Perkins dropped in 14 points to go along with steady rebounding on both ends, and a handful of blocked shots. Senior point guard Nikki Greene added 12 points, including a couple of key steals and layups in an eight-point fourth period.
"Not a lot of people are going to concentrate on Sierra, becuase she didn't get a lot of minutes last year," Holland said. "Everybody knows about Jessy and Nikki, and Sierra has done a great job all year."
It looked as if Eastern Wayne might be able to pull away from West Craven early in the fourth period when Greene picked up one of the Eagles' 26 turnovers near midcourt and passed ahead to King, who scored to give the Warriors a seemingly comfortable 49-36 lead with 6:13 left.
West Craven used its own pressure defense down the stretch to methodically cut into the margin as the Warriors committed eight turnovers in the final period. Joyce Freeman, who finished with a game-high 21 points, burried a three for the Eagles before Jessika Barnes' steal and basket made it 54-49 at the 2:30 mark.
Miscues eventually hindered any chance of an Eagle comeback, and after trading turnovers, Holland burned a timeout. The Warriors seemed to regain their composure from there and held on for the win.
Holland credited his opponent -- and fellow state playoff-qualifier -- for never giving up despite trailing for most of the game.
"We didn't execute and missed some free throws down the stretch, and West Craven never quit. That's a complement to coach (Allison) Jones," Holland said. "I knew coming into this tournament that West Craven was a good team. They are better than their record indicated."
The Eagles also struggled at the line, making just 10-of-27.
After a tight first half that saw Eastern Wayne surge late to take a 30-24 lead into halftime, the Warriors proved to be the aggressor after intermission as Yasmine Washington's hoop underneath boosted the lead to 40-30 with 4:30 left in the third. Washington and Jazzmine Lee added eight points each in the win for Eastern Wayne.
West Craven will travel to take on the Mideastern 3A/4A number-two seed, West Brunswick, in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs next week.
2004 Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference Tournament
Girls first round
West Craven 12 12 11 20 -- 55
Eastern Wayne 12 18 15 17 -- 62
No. 5 WEST CRAVEN (7-14)
Joyce Freeman 7 1 4-6 21, Keshia Hardy 7 0 0-0 14, Jessika Barnes 4 0 2-7 10, Jaquina Jones 1 0 2-10 4, Jaleesa Jones 0 0 2-2 2, Kanesha Raynor 1 0 0-0 2, Ivory Bryan 1 0 0-2 2. TOTALS -- 21 1 10-27 55.
No. 4 EASTERN WAYNE (11-11)
Sierra King 4 2 6-7 20, Jessy Perkins 7 0 0-0 14, Nikki Greene 4 0 4-9 12, Yasmine Washington 4 0 0-0 8, Jazzmine Lee 4 0 0-1 8. TOTALS -- 23 2 10-17 62.
Three-point baskets -- West Craven 1 (Freeman), Eastern Wayne 2 (King 2). Turnovers -- West Craven 26, Eastern Wayne 20. Total fouls -- West Craven 16, Eastern Wayne 20. Fouled out -- none. Technicals -- none.
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