12/31/04 — NL boys defeat Blue Devils

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NL boys defeat Blue Devils

Published in Sports on December 31, 2004 1:56 PM

LAGRANGE -- There was no doubt about it: North Lenoir's Justin Dunn had something to prove against South Lenoir in the championship game of The Free Press Holiday Invitational Thursday night.

The senior all-state candidate was sluggish and only finished with nine points in Wednesday's 10-point win against Spring Creek.

In Thursday's title game, Dunn scored 11 points before three and a half minutes had elapsed.

He finished with 28 points to lead the Hawks (8-1) to a 70-54 rout of their county rivals before a packed house at Wooten Gymnasium.

"I just wanted to come out and play like I knew I could," Dunn said. "Last night, I kind of struggled, but the guys picked me up."

North Lenoir coach Paul Dunn said he knew his little brother was ready for South Lenoir.

"When we were in the locker room, it was like he was possessed," Paul said of Justin. "He was off in his own zone. He had a look that my dad calls the 'mule look.' A mule gets hard-headed and stubborn and you can't stop him. It's his game face."

South Lenoir (5-4), which never led in the contest, tied the game at 2-2 on a Khalice Dove layup with 7:09 remaining in the first quarter. A Dunn 3-pointer started a 13-3 run that gave the Hawks a 10-point lead at 15-5.

Paul Novicki converted a conventional three-point play to pull the Blue Devils to within four points (17-13) with 1:47 left in the opening period, but Omar Jones began a 15-6 run that expanded North Lenoir's lead to 13 at 32-19 with 3:13 left in the first half.

The Hawks eventually expanded their lead to as much as 20 points before a late spurt provided the final margin.

The game was the fifth for the rivals in 2004. South Lenoir won the first matchup between the teams last season, but North Lenoir won the final three games, including a sectional championship game.

South Lenoir coach Jimmy Smith said North Lenoir was "tough," but added that his team didn't play up to its potential.

"It's hard for me to judge how much better North Lenoir is because we didn't play with as much heart tonight as we did last year," Smith said. "But trust me, we will. We're not playing with enough heart. We just haven't been hungry this year, and I'll take the blame for that. I'm old and I'm probably getting soft. But I've got some good guys in the locker room and they'll battle back. I truly believe they will."

Edwards and Antwan Wiggins scored 13 points each for North Lenoir, which next hosts Ayden-Grifton on Wednesday.

Josh Kennedy led the Blue Devils with 13 points and Novicki added 11.

South Lenoir hosts East Duplin on Monday at Munn Gymnasium in Deep Run.

The rivals will open Eastern Plains 2A play against each other at South Lenoir on Jan. 7.

Boys championship

South Lenoir 13 12 10 19 -- 54

North Lenoir 19 16 16 19 -- 70

South Lenoir

Dunn 5, Dove 8, Skinner 8, Hernandez 2, Outlaw 7, Josh Kennedy 13, Paul Novicki 11.

North Lenoir

Brewer 2, Rosber 2, Justin Dunn 28, Brown 2, Edwards 13, Jones 7, Rouse 1, Antwan Wiggins 13.