03/02/05 — Lady Cougars meet their match at NCHSAA East regional

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Lady Cougars meet their match at NCHSAA East regional

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 2, 2005 2:16 PM

GREENVILLE - Neither Goldsboro High nor High Point Central, each ranked among the state's top 10 Class 3-A women's basketball teams, had experienced defeat against competition within their classification heading into Tuesday's battle.

That fact quickly changed.

The Bison, No. 2 in the final regular-season NCPreps.com poll, seized control early and eliminated the Cougars 75-40 from the N.C. High School Athletic Association eastern regional at J.H. Rose. Central faces Greensboro Dudley, a 52-44 victor against Wilson Beddingfield, in Saturday's title game at 1 p.m.

Goldsboro concluded its season 26-4.

Central controlled the opening tip and converted an uncontested layup.

The Cougars, who had their 13-game win streak snapped, committed a turnover on their initial possession. From that point, they struggled against a smothering man-to-man defense that kept junior guard Chevoya Jackson from creating any offense.

Goldsboro didn't convert a field goal until Jessica Faison buried a baseline jumper off Jackson's assist seven-plus minutes into the game. By then, Central owned a commanding 17-2 lead.

"They took Chevoya out enough that it affected our entire offense," Cougar coach Gladys McClary said. "We just couldn't get comfortable enough to execute our offense. We were so far away from our basket (offensively) and she was not an intricate part of our offense.

"They exposed a lot of our weaknesses that we were able to patch up, mend and cover during the season."

Unprepared somewhat for the semifinal contest, 19th-year Central coach Kenny Carter spent considerable time on the phone Monday. He called a couple of Goldsboro's non-conference opponents and received reassurance that denying Jackson -- as well as senior center Ashelyn James -- any chance of scoring would benefit his team.

What also helped was the man-to-man pressure, in halfcourt and fullcourt, that harassed the Cougars into an uncharacteristic 30 turnovers. McClary played her entire bench in hopes of keeping the starters fresh, but that further weakened an offense that had just one primary ball handler.

Goldsboro had more turnovers (15) than field-goal attempts (12) in the opening half. The Bison outrebounded the Cougars 22-15 and led 38-21 at halftime.

Central finished off Goldsboro with a 15-2 run in the third period.

"We couldn't get the ball inside, couldn't get it to the wing because we're so used to Chevoya running everything," McClary said. "The only way you can play through their defense is not to get rattled. Our girls were frazzled and I could not seem to get their head into the offense.

"Every now and then I saw little spurts of the Lady Cougars."

But those sporadic moments, mainly in the second half, couldn't stop a Bison team that had all the parts of a state-championship caliber squad. Western Carolina signee Tyshemia Tillman led five Central players in double figures with 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

Allison Spivey added 15, followed by 6-foot-5 junior Kristen Phillips with 14 and Meredith Webster with 11. Eight players combined for 18 steals and 10 scored at least one basket in the Bison's 29th victory against 3-A opposition this season.

Thomasville, from the 1-A ranks, dealt Central's it lone loss.

"It's a totally different style of play when you play teams from the West," McClary admitted. "I told someone the other day that if we lose this game, we will lose to a much-better team. We lost to a better team."

The defeat capped the prep careers of seven Cougar seniors -- James (eight points), Jessica Faison (10 points), Reneisha Graham, Nickie Garner, Shemika Hardy, Helga Bryant and Shevonia Meadows. The group helped Goldsboro re-establish itself as a power on the 3-A level with three consecutive Eastern Carolina Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and three straight appearances in the eastern regional.