02/09/05 — N. Lenoir women slip to thid place

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N. Lenoir women slip to thid place

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 9, 2005 1:55 PM

PINETOPS - Halftimes are usually reserved for adjustments or catching your breath after a physically-enduring 16 minutes of play.

However, the 10-minute intermission held a different meaning for North Lenoir's and SouthWest Edgecombe's women's basketball teams Tuesday evening. Neither team played particularly well in the opening half ... in fact ... "sloppy" aptly described their effort in a key Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference showdown.

North Lenoir missed numerous open-court layups off their full-court press and failed to capitalize on SouthWest's foul trouble. Meanwhile, the Cougar women appeared unemotional and played like the way they practiced the day before -- pitiful.

The third quarter proved different.

SouthWest's guards stayed out of foul trouble, effectively broke the press and cruised to a 56-41 decision. The victory assured the Cougars of a share of the EPC regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

The Hawks (19-4) slipped to third in the league at 6-3 and must defeat Tarboro at home Friday to grab second place overall. Game time is 6 p.m. at Wooten Gymnasium.

On the men's side, Adrian Brewer sizzled the nets for a career-high 41 points in North Lenoir's 91-68 conquest. The Hawks (17-5) gained sole possession of third place in the EPC at 5-4 and clinched a berth in the NCHSAA playoffs.

"We didn't come out ready to play," said North Lenoir senior Shannon Plymouth. "It's not about home-court advantage, it's just how you play. We've got to learn to come out with intensity, not just for one minute, but for 32 minutes."

Turnovers and poor shooting plagued each team in the first half.

The Cougars connected on just 6 of 25 field goals (24 percent), while the Hawks were accurate on 9 of 27 tries (33 percent). The teams combined for 29 turnovers

SouthWest held four-point leads on three occasions, but could never build any momentum against North Lenoir's 1-2-2 halfcourt trap. The Hawks managed to tied the at 17-17 and 19-19 before Tahara Epps' free throw gave the Cougars a 20-19 advantage at halftime.

"We played that first half like we practiced yesterday," veteran SWE coach Sandra Langley said. "I reminded them that's how we lost to North Lenoir the first time because we played like we practiced.

"They went out there the second half a little more ready to play."

The backcourt tandem of twins Domonique and Monique Hudson avoided getting their third fouls in the third quarter. The duo continually broke the press and fired passes down court to either Tracey Edwards or Epps for uncontested layups.

SouthWest built an eight-point lead halfway through the quarter.

"Coach told us we were lucky to be down by one point at halftime," Plymouth said. "The third quarter we didn't come out focused. They broke the press by going through the middle and we really didn't stop the guard penetration.

"We just didn't trap."

The Cougars, unbeaten at home this season, extended their lead to double digits in the fourth quarter. The Hawks, whose four losses have occurred on the road, failed to find any consistent offensive rhythm against SouthWest's 2-3 zone.

Epps led three Cougars in double figures with 13 points, while Tamara Hyman provided 12. Domonique Hudson contributed 10 points for SouthWest, which protected its No. 7 ranking in the NCPreps.com poll.

Plymouth tallied a game-high 20 points for the Hawks.

Brewer drained his final 3-pointer with less than a minute remaining and eclipsed the single-game school record (41 points) set by teammate Justin Dunn two years ago. First-year coach Paul Dunn III also speculated that Brewer's 10 3-pointers in a single game broke the previous mark held by Mitchell Wiggins.

Brewer collected 24 second-half points -- all from 3-point range and accounted for 18 of his team's 22 points in the final quarter. When Brewer finally exited the game, coach Dunn congratulated him with a high five. Justin wrapped him in a bear hug.

"What can I say about Adrian?" a grinning coach Dunn said.

Omar Jones added 11 points, while Justin Dunn and Sammie Edwards chipped in 10 points apiece.

Hardly a blip on the radar screen less than weeks ago regarding the playoffs, the Hawks climbed above the .500 mark against EPC opposition for the first time this season.

"The guys had a sense of urgency," coach Dunn said. "They've talked about it, stepped up and let everybody know this should be our conference (to control). We're coming out to own here on out.

"We're back on the scene."