Saints escape C.B. Aycock with ECC victory
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on January 23, 2005 2:01 AM
PIKEVILLE - On a team that has been balanced all season, Southern Wayne's Delawn Armwood had the hot hand on Friday night at Charles B. Aycock. It was certainly within the realm of possibility for him to take the final shot.
Armwood found another option.
With his team trailing by one in the final seconds after the Falcons made one-of-two at the line, Armwood, who finished with a team-best 23 points to go with 14 rebounds and five assists, dribbled up the court and into the paint. As the Aycock defense collapsed on him, the junior quickly dished down low to a wide-open Antonio Davis, who put in the game-winning basket with three seconds left in the Saints' 71-70 win.
"They were so concerned with me taking my shot, I knew somebody was going to be open, then there was my teammate." Armwood said. "In practice, that's our play."
The Falcons (8-10, 4-6) got the ensuing inbounds pass in the hands of Rob Phillips, but his long 3-point try fell short at the buzzer of another Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference nail-biter at a loud, Falcons' gymnasium.
"The team that forced the most breaks at the end won the game. We forced a few and didn't take advantage of them,"Aycock coach David West said. "They made a good offensive play and we showed a lot of heart on defense.
"That time, the good offensive play just beat the defense."
Southern Wayne (13-5, 9-2) maintains at least a tie for first in the ECC with the win and improved to 7-3 on the road this season. The women's game saw the Saints trail most of the way and pull within five at 33-28 at the 5:45 mark of the fourth, before Aycock dominated the final five minutes of a 51-33 victory.
On their way to their fifth win in seven outings, Aycock (8-8 overall) posted a convincing, 18-5 run to close the game - improving its mark in the ECC to 6-4. The Falcons' Quaneisha Milner led four players with nine or more points with 12, while Keyata Pettiford and Emily Stewart contributed 10.
"I was really pleased at the way we closed out," Aycock coach Gary Hales said. "Defensively, I thought we played well, but we've got to do that for 32 minutes. It's getting better every game though.
"When we are running at our best offensively, we are establishing our post."
Shakoria Clark, who scored Southern Wayne's only six points in the first 15 minutes, finished with 13 for the Saints (3-12, 2-9).
In a men's game that see-sawed for most of the first three periods, Aycock surged to a 64-56 lead with 3:41 as an emphatic block by Phillips on the defensive end led to a put-back by Montrel Sims. The Saints had just one field goal in the first five minutes of the fourth, but a 3-pointer by Hood after a wild scramble for the ball in the paint seemed to energize the Saints.
"An eight-point lead in this league is worth about nothing unless it's the final score," West said.
In the final two minutes, Santavin Poole, who finished with a game-best 24 points and Rob Phillips, who added 17, gave Aycock a pair of two-point leads. The Saints answered both - the last tie coming at 69-69 after a stick-back by Armwood.
With 15.5 seconds left, Falcon guard Michael Gurganus was fouled off the ball and made one-of-two. From there, Armwood took the inbounds pass that eventually led to Davis' game-winning hoop. The lead was Southern Wayne's first since early in the fourth.
"I thought our poise was remarkable. We didn't give up or quit," Southern Wayne coach Mike Connelley said. "What an entertaining game. If you didn't get your money's worth tonight ... that was just fun."
Each team matched each other consistently in the first three periods as Aycock's post trio of Poole, Sims and Bryan Moore turned in solid efforts down low - benefitting from good passing up top from Philips, Gurganus and Brandon Hobbs. Phillips, Gurganus and Hobbs combined for 17 assists, while Poole, Sims and Moore combined for 42 points and 23 rebounds. In two games against the Saints this season, Poole has a combined, 67 points.
Meanwhile, Armwood had a big, second period for the Saints with 13 points - helping his team take a 35-30 lead into halftime. Neither team led by more than seven in the first three periods. Rico Whitfield and Akeem Royal contributed nine points each for Southern Wayne with Whitfield pulling down 13 boards and Royal draining three of the Saints' eight, 3-pointers.
With stout, zone defense, Aycock's women used an 8-0 spurt in less than one minute midway through the second to take a 22-6 advantage over the Saints. The Saints countered with a 6-0 run to close the period as the game stood 22-12 at halftime.
The Falcons never trailed, but the Saints never seemed to go away in the third and fourth. Southern Wayne's Dionne Dotson, Shakoria Clark and Ebony Darden sparked a third-period that saw the Saints get as close as 24-20 with three minutes left.
With a nine-point lead after three, Aycock performed well in its spread offensive as Pettiford and Milner took advantage of open lanes in the Saint defense for six points each in an impressive, fourth period effort.
"We are slow at the beginning of the game, and we started to play in the second half. Bottom line, we've got to put it all together," Southern Wayne coach Sally Combs said. "Did we play better than Tuesday night? Yes, but we've got a long way to go."
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