Alone at the top - Cougars sitting in first place with four conference games left
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 31, 2006 2:17 PM
Preseason prognosticators picked the Goldsboro High men's basketball team to claim supremacy during its inaugural season in the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference.
So far, their prediction has become reality.
Tim Kornegay pumped in 14 fourth-quarter points in the Cougars' 78-73 conquest of Farmville Central on Monday evening. Goldsboro kept sole possession of the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference lead at 5-1.
Veteran coach Randy Jordan, however, admits that protecting the top spot won't be easy with four EPC contests -- two home and two away -- remaining on the schedule. The Cougars entertain Greene Central today and make a return trip to Farmville Central on Friday.
"Everything is sorting itself out, but we do control our own destiny at this point," said Jordan. "We like playing in this building and play well here. It's really up to us how far we go with this.
"It's not going to get any easier from here on out. It's a dogfight."
Farmville Central's girls, ranked No. 9 in the latest NCPreps.com 2-A poll, shook off a sluggish first half and handed Goldsboro a 56-40 loss. N.C. State signee Megan Zullo and sister Kim combined for 30 points and 12 assists for the Jaguars, who collected their third consecutive victory.
Goldsboro (9-10) dipped to 1-5 in the league.
Jordan displayed mixed emotions after the game. He said the team "down the stretch found a way to win," and that he was pleased with its effort and intensity. But Jordan flashed a quick frown when discussing the Cougars' clock management.
Jordan shook his head at times in the fourth quarter when his team took quick shots instead of patiently attacking the Jaguars' 2-3 zone. The 24-minute battle of halfcourt offenses quickly turned into a shootout as the teams combined for 59 points with Farmville Central claiming a 30-29 edge.
Jaguar point guard Devon Atkinson constantly slashed through the lane and either converted a layup, or drew a foul. Atkinson picked up 11 of his team-best 21 points in the final period, which included a four of five performance at the free throw line.
"We didn't defend as well as I'd like in the fourth quarter, but I think we still created enough defensive chaos that made it difficult for them to get into any kind of rhythm offensively," said Jordan.
Farmville Central (9-8, 2-4 EPC) pulled within 59-55 on Taurean Newton's NBA-range 3-pointer. The teams traded baskets until Kornegay drained back-to-back buckets -- both off turnovers -- for a 71-61 lead with 1:37 left in regulation.
Atkinson continued to split the Cougar defense and get hacked on reaching fouls. His successful free throw shooting, with the clock stopped, kept the Jaguars close. But they could never completely close the gap.
"That comes with maturity," said Jordan. "We've got to be able to run time off the clock and have confidence in yourself handling the basketball. We just have to get better at knowing the time and score, and keeping possession of the ball.
"I think we'll get there."
Goldsboro trailed by as many as nine in the opening half. Daquan Joyner's old-fashioned three-point play, off an assist from Branden Herring, finally put the Cougars ahead at 21-19.
A slight defensive change at halftime created a little momentum for Goldsboro in the third period. The scheme also kept the Jaguars' Javious Dixon, who scored eight points off offensive rebounds, off the glass in the third quarter.
"We trapped out of our 2-3 zone and took away the high post, which changed what they wanted to do offensively," said Jordan. "We went with the 2-2-1 trap inside the circle."
The Cougars' defensive intensity changed the tempo and led to a couple of quick turnovers. Anthony Artis buried two 3-pointers during a two-minute stretch as Goldsboro broke a 39-39 tie, and pulled ahead 49-41.
"He came in (off the bench) and made a mistake right away," said Jordan. "But he collected himself and had that good stretch (offensively). He gave us a big lift, which was huge for us ... crucial."
Dixon's three-point play trimmed the deficit to 51-48. Kornegay, Raheem Lofton and Herring combined for six straight points to make it 57-48 midway through the nail-biting final period.
Kornegay finished with 27 points, while Joyner chipped in 16.
Goldsboro and Farmville Central combined for four ties and five lead changes in the opening half.
The Jaguars (5-1 EPC) could never pull away and the Cougars stayed within striking distance due to solid rebounding, particularly from Angel Roberts. The senior pulled down 10 first-half boards and concluded the night with a double-double -- 10 points, 13 rebounds.
"I was very proud of their efforts, particularly on the defensive end," said Goldsboro coach Gladys McClary. "At times, we couldn't get over quick enough to defend, which gave the shooters good looks at the basket."
Megan and Kim Zullo exposed the Cougars' weakness early in the third quarter. The duo combined for just two 3-pointers, but the successful shooting created some open looks for teammates. Brittaney Talbott tallied seven second-half points -- all on shots inside the 10-foot range.
Goldsboro, meanwhile, couldn't find the open spots offensively. The Jaguars intercepted passes and converted them into easy baskets, which allowed them to claim a double-digit lead early in the final period.
"We just didn't move the ball around enough to get in position to take the shot in the open spots," said McClary. "We didn't recognize and attack those spots."
Chevoya Jackson emerged the Cougars' top scorer with 12 points. The senior point guard dished out six assists, grabbed nine rebounds and picked the Jaguars for three steals.
Farmville Cent. 19 10 14 30 -- 73
Goldsboro 15 16 18 29 -- 78
FARMVILLE CENTRAL (9-7, 2-4)
Kajon Farrow 3 0 2-2 8, Devon Atkinson 7 1 4-5 21, Tyrell Barrett 2 0 6-6 10, Javious Dixon 9 0 2-4 20, Taurean Newton 2 1 2-2 9, Richard Williams 1 0 2-4 4, Devaughn Gibbs 0 0 1-2 1. TOTALS -- 24 2 19-29 73.
GOLDSBORO (12-8, 5-1)
Branden Herring 2 0 1-2 5, Burnie Best 1 0 0-0 2, Eric McLean 0 1 2-2 5, Tim Kornegay 11 0 5-6 27, Anthony Artis 1 2 0-0 8, Tim Hobbs 0 0 0-0 0, Treme Boone 1 0 1-4 3, Joe Houpe 0 0 2-6 2, Dquan Joyner 4 2 2-3 16, Antonio Green 1 0 0-0 2, Raheem Lofton 4 0 0-0 8. TOTALS -- 25 5 13-23 78.
3-point goals -- Goldsboro 5 (Artis, Joyner, McLean), F. Central 2 (D. Atkinson, Newton). Turnovers -- Goldsboro 15, F. Central 28. Total fouls -- Goldsboro 17, F. Central 19. Fouled out -- Joyner, Dixon, Newton.
Farmville Cent. 14 8 17 17 -- 56
Goldsboro 12 6 13 9 -- 40
FARMVILLE CENTRAL (14-3, 5-1)
Megan Zullo 4 2 4-5 18, Kim Zullo 4 1 1-4 12, Brittaney Talbott 2 1 0-0 7, Shawanna Andrews 1 0 0-0 2, Crystal Smith 4 0 1-2 9, Stephony Newkirk 3 0 0-0 6, Lashonna Shannon 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 19 4 6-11 56.
GOLDSBORO (9-10, 1-5)
Carmille Early 0 0 0-0 0, Angel Roberts 5 0 0-2 10, Chevoya Jackson 5 0 2-2 12, Helga Bryant 1 0 0-0 2, Kianna Williams 0 1 0-0 3, Tiffany Burden 1 0 0-0 2, Danielle Irby 1 0 1-4 3, Mikeda Graham 4 0 0-0 8, Kenretta Mewborn 0 0 0-0 0. TOTALS -- 17 1 3-8 40.
3-point goals -- Goldsboro 1 (Williams), F. Central 4 (M. Zullo 2, K. Zullo, Talbott). Turnovers -- Goldsboro 20, F. Central 12. Total fouls -- Goldsboro 10, F. Central 6. Fouled out -- none.
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