02/18/05 — Turnovers kill Princeton in Carolina 1-A semis

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Turnovers kill Princeton in Carolina 1-A semis

By Neil Fuller
Published in Sports on February 18, 2005 1:59 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - If the Princeton men's basketball team could only take back a few precious minutes of the first half, the Class 1-A Carolina Conference tournament final might have a vastly different look.

Instead, North Johnston will be looking to add a tournament title to its first regular-season championship in 39 seasons.

The Bulldogs committed 12 first-half turnovers and failed to stop the top-seeded Panthers during an 11-0 second-quarter run in suffering a 47-41 loss Thursday night in the conference semifinals at College Hall.

"We lost the game in the first half ... we just lost it early on," Princeton coach Jeff Davis said. "In the first half, we stood around and let them take the ball out of our hands. They got every loose ball, every rebound. That was the end of the game."

North Johnston (17-6) will face No. 2 seed Ayden-Grifton tonight at 7:30 for the Carolina 1-A tournament crown.

Panthers guard Brandon Sanders had a game-high 20 points, and Damien Allen and Willie Smith combined for 21 rebounds -- 11 coming on the offensive end.

A pair of Jake Lomonaco free throws 51/2 minutes into the game gave the Panthers the lead for good.

Despite recording only four second-half field goals, North Johnston went 11-of-17 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to hold on.

"We have been a little up-and-down shooting free throws," Panthers coach Derrick Johnson said. "I would've liked to have shot a little better than we did tonight. We made enough. I'm comfortable late in a game if we get fouled."

Princeton standout Karter Yutzy scored seven of his team-leading 15 points during the first quarter, but finished just 5-of-13 from the field.

Yutzy was held scoreless in the second quarter as North Johnston claimed a 26-17 lead at the break.

"We lost this game with turnovers," Davis said. "They had 26 points in the first half, and at least 10 of those points came of turnovers. We just gave them layups off turnovers. That can't happen, because we were really even with North Johnston the rest of the way.

"We just handed them the basketball. The reason we've been winning this year is because we haven't been turning the basketball over."

The fifth-seeded Bulldogs (17-9) will live to fight another day -- in the NCHSAA playoffs beginning Monday. Princeton will travel to the No. 2 seed from the Super Six 1-A on Monday night.

"The only thing that worries me is how we'll respond to losing to a big rival," Davis said. "We seem to be alright -- that's the key. We can win in the state playoffs. We're not going in just looking to play one game."

Lomonaco finished with eight points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field.

Notes: North Johnston split the regular-season series with Princeton with each team winning on its home court. ... Josh Thompson hit three 3-pointers for Princeton. ... Yutzy had 12 rebounds. ... Lomonaco was 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. ... Adam Williams came off the Princeton bench to score eight points. ... Smith scored eight points. ... Ayden-Grifton defeated Farmville Central 69-61 in the second semifinal to advance into tonight's final. ... North Johnston has a bye in the opening round of the NCHSAA playoffs.