02/18/05 — North Lenoir men blast into EPC 2-A final

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North Lenoir men blast into EPC 2-A final

Published in Sports on February 18, 2005 1:58 PM

SNOW HILL - Coach Paul Dunn had a two-word prediction about who will win tonight's Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference tournament final tonight at North Lenoir.

Why not be confident after the Hawks' resounding 83-63 win over second-seeded Greene Central on their home court in Snow Hill?

"That was the best four quarters of basketball we've played all year," said Dunn.

His thoughts were echoed by Green Central coach Kevin Hart.

"They were on top of their game tonight," said Hart. "They deserved to win."

The game started on a potentially ominous note. Justin Dunn took the opening tip, and raced in for the dunk from mid-court, only to have the play negated due to a traveling call. Greene Central's Teddie Waters came right back with a three-point basket. The Rams had their first -- and only lead of the night -- 3-0, at 6:52 of the first quarter.

Two former football stars, Russell Rouse and E.J. Brown, took care of business for their club in the first quarter. Brown hit two 3-pointers.

Rouse had a banner opening eight minutes. He hit a basket and went four for four from the free-throw line. The former all-area lineman laid the foundation for a near perfect 27 of 29 team effort from the charity stripe.

In another flurry of play, he blocked a breakaway shot, grabbed several rebounds, and caused two early offense fouls.

Dunn, who did not score his first points until 51 seconds were left in the first quarter, clearly found his shooting eye in the second. He teamed up with Brown and Omar Jones to pour 23 points through the nets in the second quarter for a commanding 41-27 lead.

Sam Edwards then paired up with Dunn to handle the offense in the second half. Four Rams finished the night in double figures. Dunn led the way with 23 points. He was followed by Brown with 19, Edwards with 17, and Rouse with 10. Jones, coach Dunn's "Mr. Consistency," just missed with eight.

It will now be 'win or go home' for both teams.

North Lenoir hosts North Pitt tonight for the conference tournament championship. Greene Central will drop to the third seed for the state playoffs.

If the North Lenoir boys played their best, the women did not, as the second-seeded Lady Rams dropped a heartbreaking 44-41 decision to third-seeded Tarboro.

The opening tip, as in the boys game, did not go well. The Lady Hawks took the ball and were immediately called for a back court violation.

Tarboro only scored one basket in the first quarter. They were lethal, however, from the free-throw line, where they connected on six of eight attempts. Shannon Plymouth was North Lenoir's offense. She made three baskets.

Things did not improve for the Lady Hawks in the second quarter. The Tarboro lead went to 11 points, 22-11, at the 2:47 mark. Making matters worse, Katie Maloney picked up her third foul at 5:02. She went on to foul out at 4:19 of the fourth quarter, and was held scoreless.

Thanks to the shooting of Carla Miller, North Lenoir began creeping back into the game. Her nine points in the third quarter cut the lead to only three points five times, setting the stage for a nail-biting fourth period.

Miller hit two three-point baskets in the final eight minutes. The first cut the lead to two, 38

36. The other at 5:14, reduced it to one, 40-39. Shannon Plymouth's basket at 2:38, gave them another go ahead chance, down 42-41, at 2:38. North Lenoir was unable to capitalize on three chances to score. Tarboro's Nicole Thomas scored a backdoor basket with only 30 seconds left to insure the win.

"We only played one half, the second," said Lady Hawk coach Wayne Floyd. "I think we stayed on the bus during the first.

"You can't do that against a good team like Tarboro."