02/20/06 — Assistants will lead Lady Eagles, Falcons

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Assistants will lead Lady Eagles, Falcons

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 20, 2006 2:14 PM

Rosewood's girls went unbeaten in Class 1-A Carolina Conference play, finished the season at 19-4 and will host a first-round game. Charles B. Aycock's girls finished tied for second in the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference, went 16-9 and will travel for their playoff opener.

But the two county teams share something in common -- they will both be led by their assistant coaches when the postseason begins today.

The Lady Eagles, have already played two games without their head coach, Jerry Narron, who is now in spring training as the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Rosewood went 1-1 in the Carolina tournament and suffered their only loss of the season against a league team on Friday against North Johnston in the tourney championship.

The Eagles, who open up the N.C. High School playoffs at home today against Lejeune (12-11), will be led the rest of the way by assistant coaches Jennifer Cochran and Josh Smith.

Aycock's girls travel to Nash Central (18-9) to open up the playoffs as assistant coaches Ricky Smith and T.J. Lancaster will fill in for first-year coach Luke Vail, who will miss the game due to a death in his family. If the Golden Falcons advance, Vail will be back for the second round on Wednesday.

"Our girls will play up to their capability. We've got a good chance," Vail said. "Protecting the ball against Nash Central will be key, because they are a pressure team. I'm excited they're in the playoffs. It's a good accomplishment for this team."

Cochran, who coached many of the same players during Rosewood's historical volleyball run this year, is confident the team will put the loss to North Johnston behind them heading into the playoffs.

"They realize that the regular season is over, the tournament was basically for bragging rights and now we get a second chance," she said. "We're starting all over against teams we haven't seen. It's the best of the best, and there are no second chances."

Rosewood has been led this season by Clare Narron and Courtney Hill, both averaging over 15 points per game. In balanced fashion, Stephanie Rhodes, Shanita Monroe and Kasie Braswell have all posted consistent scoring efforts, while Kasey Grey has proved solid underneath the boards.

The senior-laden Eagles thrive on strong, pressure defense and Cochran doesn't see that changing in the postseason.

"We'll be able to run our press and offensive plays, but we haven't found out much about them (Lejeune)," she said. "The good thing is, they don't know what we have either."

Aycock guard Quaneisha Milner (16 points per game) and center Emily Stewart (12 points per game) are leading the Falcons in scoring, while Milner is dishing out six assists and Stewart is averaging double-digit rebounds. Erin Medford is also pulling down close to 10 boards and dishing out five assists.

"We just have to play our best game. You can't afford to come out flat in the playoffs," Vail said.

Faith Christian's girls clinched a berth in the N.C. Christian Schools Association tournament after finishing second in the Coastal Region tournament on Friday and Saturday. The Lady Conquerors (14-9) will now travel to Berean Baptist for the eight-team state tournament, which starts on Thursday.

Elizabeth Clarke, Natalie Thibeaux, Renee Provencal and Amy and Alyssa Hill provided steady efforts in the Coastal Tournament and all season for Faith.

Area conference qualifiers: Class 3-A -- West Craven (13-12)/Currituck (12-11) winner at Wilson Beddingfield (24-0); Wilson Hunt (14-12) at Havelock (15-10). Class 2-A -- Graham (20-6)/McMichael (9-12) winner at Farmville Central (19-3); North Lenoir (21-5) at Warren County (15-9); Bunn (14-10) at Tarboro (16-9). Class 1-A -- Princeton (14-10) at Wallace-Rose Hill (15-10); James Kenan (17-9) at North Johnston (16-5).