03/01/05 — Lady Cougars roaring into NCHSAA regionals

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Lady Cougars roaring into NCHSAA regionals

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 1, 2005 2:00 PM

GREENVILLE - No preparation time for today's matchup against traditional power High Point Central doesn't bother Goldsboro women's basketball coach Gladys McClary.

She admits there's nothing she can teach her team at this point. It's a matter of the Lady Cougars stepping onto the court, executing their game plan and hoping to play another day.

For High Point Central, it's not so easy.

Goldsboro women's basketball

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Goldsboro High School senior center Ashelyn James scores two of her game-high 27 points Saturday night during the NCHSAA Section III final against Nash Central.

After claiming their sectional title Saturday evening, the Bison (28-1) expected to continue play in the western regional in Winston-Salem. But N.C. High School Athletic Association officials put Carver High in High Point Central's spot in favor of attracting a "home" crowd to Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum.

"There was an agreement with Lawrence Joel, because of revenue, they would send that team there," veteran High Point Central coach Kenny Carter said. "In my 19 years, I didn't know of anything happening like that. I hadn't seen it in print anywhere.

"All of my prep had been done for the west (regional)."

The change forced Carter to scrap every piece of information, particularly game tapes, of the participants he would see in the regional. He comes to Greenville with limited facts on Greensboro Dudley and no knowledge of either Goldsboro or Wilson Beddingfield.

The four-team regional tips off tonight at 7 p.m. when High point Central opposes Goldsboro (26-3), which is making its third consecutive appearance in the eastern semifinals. Wilson Beddingfield (21-3) faces Greensboro Dudley (20-4) in the nightcap and the two winners square off Saturday at 1 p.m.

McClary knows of High Point Central's tradition -- 22 consecutive 20-win seasons, 13 regional appearances and five state titles in seven tries. After that, she shares Carter's concern of scarce data with just one afternoon of practice to prepare for each other.

"We're not afraid of a challenge against anybody," McClary said. "I've heard about High Point, but I'm not afraid of High Point. We are a good team ... everybody that is here is good.

"We may not have had challenges like we're getting ready to meet, but these girls deserve to be here."

Carter prefers to play an up-tempo game and favors scoring in the 70-point range. He uses a platoon system and goes at least five deep on his bench. The strategy wears down an opponent and helps fuel the Bison's offense, which feeds off their defense.

The platoon strategy will test Goldsboro, which used just two bench players in sectional victories against Wilson Fike and Nash Central. Injuries sidelined projected starter Shemika Hardy (knee) and Helga Bryant (broken finger).

High Point Central has tallied 70 or more points in 11 of its last 12 games.

"It's a different style ... more fast-paced down here and man-up aggressive," Carter said. "When you get up in the west, it's more 2-3 zone-oriented (and) more 3-point look-oriented.

"Fundamentals are probably stronger there. Athletic ability dominates in the east. And coaching is good wherever, so you just have to fit what you bring to the table."

Senior Teshymia Tillman, a 5-foot-8 forward, leads the Bison in points per game (20.0), rebounds (6.0) and assists (6.0). Senior guard Allison Spivey and junior guard Meredith Webster average 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Also on the roster is 6-5 junior center Kristen Phillips, who has verbally committed to Connecticut. However, Phillips struggles in the up-tempo style and averages limited numbers -- six points, four rebounds.

Goldsboro looks to counter with junior guard Chevoya Jackson and the frontcourt trio of Ashelyn James, Jessica Faison and Carmille Early. Jackson and James have emerged the leaders on a team that faced numerous preseason question marks.

Jackson has matured into a seasoned point guard and averages 16.3 points per outing. She also dishes out four assists and grabs six rebounds each time out.

"When Clintoria (Bryant) left, I'm sure there were questions," McClary said. "But I didn't have any because that's why Chevoya was on varsity as a freshman. I knew I needed to put Chevoya with leadership early and Clintoria was not selfish.

"She'd teach her and train her as much as she could along with the quality (of talent) that Chevoya already had. Chevoya has done a fantastic job leading this team along with Ashelyn."

James, a senior forward, averages a double-double -- 15.5 points, 11 rebounds. Faison is close to a double-double with nine points and eight boards.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.