Rams try new plan, but NV advances in 2-A playoffs
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 25, 2004 1:56 PM
HENDERSON -- First-year Greene Central boys basketball coach Kevin Hart admits his team played conservatively throughout the season. It was his initial strategy when took over the program.
But once the Rams clinched a playoff berth, Hart decided to reward his players. He allowed them to play a more aggressive style, trapping all over the court and harassing every pass Tuesday evening against Northern Vance.
North Lenoir's Justin Dunn (21) slides between two Roanoke Rapids receivers to put up a shot during the Hawks' playoff opener against the Yellow Jackets Tuesday at Wooten Gym. The Hawks beat Roanoke Rapids 73-40 to advance to Thursday's second-round matchup at Northern Carolina Conference champion Southeeast Halifax. The game will be played in Halifax.
The strategy worked well for two-plus quarters.
Greene Central stayed within striking distance until the state-ranked Vikings pulled away in the final quarter for a 94-76 victory. Northern Vance (23-4) entertains T. Wingate Andrews at 7 p.m. Thursday in round two of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 2-A sectional No. 2 playoffs.
"Essentially, we did something that we haven't practiced all year," Hart said. "We knew it was going to look (ragged) at times because it looked like that in practice.
"We felt like we couldn't beat them in a halfcourt game. We felt like we had just as good of a chance at trying to get them to turn the ball over."
The Rams forced 15 first-half turnovers and found themselves down 33-31 with less than two minutes to go before halftime. But the Vikings extended their 1-3-1 point zone just beyond halfcourt and forced three quick turnovers. Two miscues led to four Anthony Branch free throws.
Northern Vance, the No. 2 seed from the Northern Carolina Conference, built a 10-point lead with 17 seconds to go and led 41-32 at the break.
Hart still felt confident throughout the third quarter.
Greene Central (11-15) kept it a two-possession game and had a couple of chances to close within three points or less.
"We were right within four or six points, but we just couldn't get over that hump," Hart said. "We couldn't close and get any pressure on them. There were a couple of times I thought about dropping back and playing man-to-man, just to see if we could make them work for everything."
"The guys wanted to stay in trap and that's what I had promised them."
The Vikings, ranked No. 5 in the latest ihigh.com statewide poll, made slight adjustments to the Rams' trapping defense. They kept three players at halfcourt to break the press on the initial trap and two players -- Quinton Daniel and Ikeem Walker underneath the Vikings' basket.
Meanwhile, Greene Central dropped back one player to defend numerous 2-on-1 situations.
Branch continually got past the first trap. Once he dribbled into the lane, he fed passes to either Daniel or Walker, who each had uncontested looks at the basket. On a couple of occasions, Branch took the shot himself.
"With our pressure, they had to throw the next open pass," Hart said. "If we send one guy back and play two people on the long pass, then we'll have four up there trapping three.
"We knew that was a big risk. If they ever got past that four, they've got guys who can finish. It was taking a gamble, but we felt like we needed to do something different.
"It just didn't turn out for us."
Despite giving up several shots in that defense the Rams, the No. 4 seed from the Eastern Plains Conference, trailed 67-61 with six minutes left in regulation. Teddie Waters and Clifton Chapman each buried a 3-pointer, and Charles Gamble converted an old-fashioned three-point play.
Northern Vance's Paul Crews answered with a 3-pointer. Walker drained two free throws after getting fouled on an offensive rebound. The Vikings tallied six more points and led 77-61.
The Rams couldn't close the deficit under 10 points after that.
Gamble and Waters led four Greene Central players in double figures with 15 points. Gerry Kesselbach chipped in 14, while Chapman finished with 11.
Walker emerged the game's top scorer with 25 points, including 15 in the final quarter. Branch, Daniel and Victor Thorpe each had 16.
Greene Central is 1-3 in the playoffs since advancing to the eastern regionals in 2001. The Rams, during that same stretch, are 2-3 against Northern Carolina opposition.
2004 N.C. High School
Athletic Association Class 2-A
Sectional No. 2 playoffs
(at No. Vance HS, Henderson)
Greene Central 20 12 20 24 -- 76
No. Vance 20 21 21 32 -- 94
GREENE CENTRAL (11-15)
Gerry Kesselbach 4 2 0-0 14, Kelsey Baker 1 0 0-0 2, Brandon Corbett 1 1 0-0 5, Tyrone Hall 0 0 0-0 0, Rodney Wilkes 1 0 0-0 2, Teddie Waters 1 4 1-2 15, Clifton Chapman 1 3 0-0 11, Dreyon Willis 2 1 0-0 7, Reggie Johnson 0 0 0-0 0, Tykii Swinson 0 0 0-0 0, Jonathan Gage 1 0 0-1 2, Charles Gamble 4 0 7-12 15. TOTALS -- 16 12 8-15 76.
NORTHERN VANCE (23-4)
Paul Crews 0 1 3-4 6, Anthony Branch 5 0 6-7 16, Jihad Scott 1 0 0-0 2, Justin Henderson 0 0 0-2 0, James Ragland 0 1 0-0 3, Quinton Daniel 6 0 4-5 16, Victor Thorpe 5 1 3-3 16, Chad Wilson 2 0 0-0 4, Matt Sossamon 3 0 0-0 6, Ikeem Walker 5 3 6-8 25. TOTALS -- 27 6 22-29 94.
Three-point baskets -- Greene Central 12 (Waters 4, Chapman 3, Kesselbach 2, Smith, Willis, Swinson); No. Vance 6 (Walker 3, Thorpe, Ragland, P. Crews). Turnovers -- Greene Central 23, No. Vance 18. Total fouls -- Greene Central 22, No. Vance 16. Fouled out -- Willis. Technicals -- none.
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