02/18/05 — Aycock, Goldsboro to meet for ECC 3-A tourney title

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Aycock, Goldsboro to meet for ECC 3-A tourney title

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 18, 2005 2:00 PM

Thursday night at the Cougar Den, top-seeded Goldsboro and second-place Charles B. Aycock's women's basketball teams dispelled the often-used adage that it's hard to beat a team three times in the same season.

Sparked by a season-high 24 points from junior guard Chevoya Jackson, the two-time defending tournament champions defeated West Carteret 55-34 in the night-cap. Jackson recorded 16 of Goldsboro's 30 in the first half as the Cougars rolled out to a 18-point lead at intermission

The win was Goldsboro's 40th straight against an ECC foe.

"I think we did a really good job getting up and down the floor," Goldsboro coach Gladys McClary said. "I give West Carteret a lot of credit, because when you play a team three times it's not easy to just pull out a win. You have to do things they haven't seen before.

"I knew at some point, she (Jackson) needed to step up and score offensively. Her timing couldn't have been more perfect. We need her to not just be able to pass, but to be able to score."

The Cougars played consistent team defense with a variety of lineups -- forcing 29 turnovers and turning many into baskets. Senior forward Ashelyn James added 17 points for Goldsboro, including a solid, 9-of-11 from the free-throw line.

A big start also proved to be the key in the second-seeded Lady Falcons' 51-38 win over rival and playoff-qualifier Eastern Wayne in the night's opener. Aycock didn't allow a field goal in the second period as the Falcons outscored the Warriors 10-1 on their way to a 25-9 halftime lead.

The Falcons were balanced through the game with five players scoring six or more. Senior forward Lela Reid (13 points) and sophomore Erin Medford (10 points) paced Aycock, who went up 23-8 at the 2:30 mark of the first half.

The Falcons forced 11 Warrior miscues before the break and 19 for the game.

"I thought we were very intense. Our fast break set the tone," Aycock coach Gary Hales said. "I think running them up and down the court hurt them and it took away from their shooting.

"They take ownership of the team and support each other on and off the court, and that transfers over to our style."

Down 39-23 after three, the fifth-seeded Warriors executed better offensively in the final period with Sierra King drilling two 3-pointers down the stretch to help Eastern Wayne finish on a positive note heading into the playoffs next week.

"Coach Hales has got his girls playing well. We scored only one point in the second period, then we got back to running our offense and shot better," said Eastern Wayne coach Brent Holland, who takes his team to the Big Eight North No. 2 seed in the first round next Tuesday. "We need to quit relying on the three when it's not falling."

"We are just happy to be in the playoffs. A couple of weeks ago we didn't think we had a chance, now we are going."

The ability to get to the free throw line also proved key for both winners. Aycock turned in one of its best performances of the season at the stripe, making 13-of-18 (72 percent). Meanwhile, Goldsboro got to the line 18 more times than the visitors from Morehead City and knocked down 17-of-27 -- a 63 percent effort.

The wins set up a sets up a one vs. two matchup in the championship on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Goldsboro High. Goldsboro swept the two, regular season games against Aycock by margins of 10 at Goldsboro and two in Pikeville.

The Cougars enter on a nine-game winning streak and have claimed 16 of their last 17. The Falcons have won 10 straight and 12-of-13.

"It's going to be a good game. I have great respect for Coach Hales and his team," McClary said. "They are playing good, but so are we. Every win that we have gained, we have worked hard. We are looking forward to that game."

Regardless of the outcome, the Cougars and Falcons will open up the playoffs next week as the conference's one and two seeds, respectively. Goldsboro will have a first-round bye and begin play on Thursday, while the Golden Falcons tip-off on Tuesday at home against the Big Eight South No. 4.

"This was a goal we set in the second half of the season. We have reached our goal, now we just have to achieve it," Hales said. "We are going to have to play our best game. We just have to do what we are going to do and not panic. Two good teams are going to battle Saturday night."