Southern Wayne crowned ECC king
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 19, 2006 2:17 AM
DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne senior Akeem Royal seemed a little shocked when head coach Mike Connelley told him he wasn't playing aggressive on both ends of the court Friday evening.
So, like any good player, Royal accepted the challenge.
Known as "Fish" to his teammates and the hardest catch for any opponent to reel in this season, Royal collected a double-double -- 34 points, 14 rebounds -- and helped flush Kinston 82-60 in the Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tournament final Friday evening. The top-seeded Saints (22-2) earned their second victory over the Vikings in a seven-day stretch, and seized their 10th consecutive win overall.
"I didn't think he was playing with any intensity defensively and on the boards in the first quarter," said Connelley. "But he did a terrific job doing that from the second quarter on and everybody jumped on that.
"This was the best game I've seen Fish play in two years."
Kinston (19-7) dictated the tempo in the opening quarter and raced to an 8-1 lead. The Saints looked stagnant on offense and failed to create any open looks on the perimeter for Royal or Derek Garris.
Once the quarter ended, Connelley told his team to stop dribbling too much in place, penetrate the Viking defense and pick up the pace offensively.
The Saints did.
Royal tied the game at 18-18 with two free throws at the five-minute mark. He added a couple of baskets, and got scoring support from Antonio Davis and Derek Garris. Garris' 3-pointer capped a 15-2 run that boosted Southern Wayne's advantage to 27-19.
"We were out of position all night long and we allowed 5 (Royal) to get loose," said Kinston coach Wells Gulledge. "You cover it and cover it, but you cannot let those kids get a look. We allowed him to catch the ball, and he got his shots off."
Davis converted a traditional three-point play and Royal added a 3-pointer just before halftime. The Saints led 35-24 at intermission.
Kinston attempted to establish an inside presence with Quinton Coples in the third quarter. Coples scored six points on three consecutive possesions to keep the Vikings within four points.
But Royal tallied 12 points during a 15-4 run that silenced the Viking fans in attendance, and brought the Saints fans to their feet. Garris added a 3-pointer off Delawn Armwood's assist.
Kinston never recovered from the offensive surge.
"On some of our rotations we had guys going in there who were not taking care of business (defensively)," said Gulledge. "They've got five great players out there and we've got to know our assignments. Against a team like this, if you have one hiccup, it can start the ball rolling.
"We had a lot of hiccups tonight."
Connelley cited numerous reasons for the Saints' success.
He complimented Davis' and Justin Bellamy's defensive efforts in the second half. He heaped praise on the entire team for challenging the Vikings inside and crashing the boards on nearly every possession.
"They're very physical and luckily we weren't intimidated by them," said Connelley, whose team earned a decisive 23-8 edge at the free throw line.
Armwood and Davis provided 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Bo Ingram paced three Vikings in double figures with 17 points. Curtis Hines added 12, while Coples chipped in 10.
Southern Wayne received a well-deserved standing ovation from the Saint faithful once the final horn sounded. The Saints grabbed their third ECC tournament title in the past four years.
"That's pretty nice," said Connelley. "I'm really pleased with where we are right now and what we've accomplished. It's going to be fun to see what we can do in the state playoffs."
2006 Class 3-A
Eastern Carolina Conference
Men's Basketball Tournament
(at So. Wayne HS, Dudley)
Kinston 17 7 19 17 -- 60
Southern Wayne 12 23 24 23 -- 82
K.K. Sherrod 2 0 4-6 8, Calvin Scott 1 0 0-4 2, Tremaine Miller 1 0 0-0 2, Bo Ingram 7 1 0-0 17, Miguel Starkey 2 0 0-0 4, Felton Mason 0 0 0-4 0, Jamar Carraway 0 0 0-0 0, Curtis Hines 1 3 1-2 12, Akeem Sutton 0 0 0-0 0, Jermaine Miller 0 0 1-2 1, Rashod Wynn 2 0 0-0 4, Rashod Wynn 2 0 0-0 4, Steven Sherrod 0 0 0-2 0, Quinton Coples 4 0 2-2 10, Zemelist Prewitt 0 0 0-0 0. TOTALS -- 20 4 8-22 60.
SOUTHERN WAYNE (22-2)
Derek Garris 0 2 1-3 7, Anthony Council 1 0 0-2 2, Antonio Davis 5 0 4-5 14, Akeem Royal 6 5 7-11 34, Delawn Armwood 5 0 5-10 15, Jay Connelley 0 0 0-0 0, Justin Bellamy 0 0 4-6 4, Austin Hood 2 0 2-2 6, Jarrari Ward 0 0 0-0 0. TOTALS -- 19 7 23-39 82.
3-point goals -- Kinston 4 (Hines 3, Ingram), So. Wayne 7 (Royal 5, Garris 2). Turnovers -- Kinston 17, So. Wayne 19. Total fouls -- Kinston 25, So. Wayne 18. Fouled out -- none. Technical fouls -- none.
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