02/16/05 — 39 and counting ... Goldsboro women advance in ECC

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39 and counting ... Goldsboro women advance in ECC

By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on February 16, 2005 1:59 PM

The third time was certainly no charm for the Washington High women's basketball team.

Ashelyn James and Chevoya Jackson combined for 31 points, and the visiting Pam Pack committed 30 turnovers as regular-season champion Goldsboro stormed to a 54-32 win Tuesday night in the first round of the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tournament.

The Lady Cougars (22-3) will host West Carteret in the semifinals after finishing off a three-game season sweep of No. 9 seed Washington.

Three-time defending ECC champion Goldsboro has now won 39 straight conference games, including tournament contests. The Pam Pack did pose an early challenge, however.

Junior guard Meredith Knox scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first half -- including two second-quarter 3-pointers -- to keep Washington (6-16) within single digits.

Goldsboro led 29-20 at halftime.

Lady Cougars coach Gladys McClary expected the Pam Pack to come out swinging.

"It came as no surprise," McClary said. "When you get into a conference tournament, you're playing teams for a third time. When you play a team for a third time, they pretty much know how you play and what you do. You have to prepare your players to execute both offensively and defensively.

"To see Washington come out and play as well as they did was not a surprise."

But Goldsboro's depth and defense proved more than sufficient to eliminate any threat on this night.

Washington would produce only five field goals during the second half, and seven different Lady Cougars -- led by James' 16 points -- scored at least one basket.

Goldsboro shut out Washington over the first 31/2 minutes of the second half as part of an 8-0 run.

"My mind was on shutting down penetration and boxing out," McClary said. "I didn't even realize we (held them to five second-half field goals). Our girls did a great job. I'm very proud of them."

Jackson cemented the Pam Pack's fate by converting a 3-point play to give Goldsboro a 48-30 lead with 3:49 remaining.

The youthful Washington team could only look toward the future as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

"I think we finished the season playing much better," first-year Pam Pack coach Joe Lawrence said. "I think much year will be a whole lot more positive. I hope so, anyway."

As for the Lady Cougars, they can be positive their undefeated ECC streak continues on.

Notes: Fourth-seeded West Carteret defeated Kinston to advance into Thursday's semifinal matchup against Goldsboro. ... Goldsboro G Mikeda Graham scored eight points. ... Washington was 0-for-2 from the free-throw line. ... Washington won at eighth-seeded Southern Wayne on Saturday night in the tournament play-in game.