Cougars, Saints get first-round byes
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 20, 2006 2:15 PM
Five Wayne County high school boys basketball programs will be looking to continue their regular-season success when postseason play begins this week in the public and private school ranks.
Among the teams in the county that qualified for the playoffs, three will enter as the No. 1 seeds out of their respective conferences -- Southern Wayne (22-2), Goldsboro (15-10) and Faith Christian (24-1).
Class 3-A Southern Wayne and 2-A Goldsboro received first-round byes and will open the postseason at home on Thursday. The Saints will take on either Nash Central (14-10) or Washington (11-13), while the Cougars face the winner of West Stokes (15-11) and Orange High (18-8).
Both claimed impressive regular-season titles in competitive conferences, but enter the playoffs after dissimilar showings in league-tournament play. The Saints won the Eastern Carolina Conference tourney with victories over Wilson Hunt and Kinston as the Cougars fell in the semifinals to eventual tournament-champ, Greene Central.
"I'm happy with how we played this past week and hope we keep working hard, getting better and stay healthy," Saints coach Mike Connelley said.
"We played a tough schedule, played hard and the guys have had a lot of good games. I'm pleased with the whole season, and proud of the way we've played."
Jordan believes his team has regrouped after back-to-back losses and is prepared for the competitiveness of the playoffs.
"I think they're hungry at this point. They lost their last two, and in their minds they let both of them get away," he said. "We've had some hard intense practices the last couple of days."
The Saints, ranked No. 2 in the latest ncpreps.com 3-A poll, will be looking for continued scoring from Akeem Royal and Delawn Armwood, both averaging close to 25 points per game, while guards Austin Hood and Derek Garris will need to continue to play solid frontcourt defense and dish the ball to open teammates. Antonio Davis is averaging nearly a double-double and has come on especially strong in the last few weeks down low.
"All of our guys really know their roles," Connelley said. "That's one of the main things that's made us so successful."
Goldsboro's own duo of scorers, Tim Kornegay (20.8 points, 6.8 rebounds) and Daquan Joyner (18.1 points, 12.2 rebounds), will need continued support from Raheem Lofton (9.7 points, 5.2 assists), Branden Herring (7.4 points, 2 steals) and a host of role players.
"We've had different guys step up to fill a void. If someone's not scoring, someone else steps up," Jordan said.
In the 1-A playoffs, Spring Creek, which finished third in the Carolina Conference, will begin the postseason on Tuesday with a sectional quarterfinal contest at James Kenan, the No. 2 seed from the Super Six Conference. Both teams have identical, 12-14 records.
The Gators, which fell in the Carolina tournament semifinals to North Johnston, have four players averaging nine points per game or more -- Dalreese Bell (19 points), Cliff Wilson (13 points), Josh Wright (10 points) and Daniel Chewning (nine points). Desmund Raeford is the teams leading rebounder, while Wilson, Wright and Bell have all dished out their fair share of assists.
Spring Creek coach Sonny Kilpatrick believes the Gators' tough regular-season schedule should pay off this week.
"We've seen some good teams. We've played teams that play really good offense and defense, and it helps you understand what it takes," he said. "We remember how Southern Wayne played us defensively, and that's how you need to be playing people. It let's them know how it feels to be played tough and aggressive."
Faith, coached by Jeff Stocks, ran through regular season play with only one loss and will enter the Class 2-A N.C. Christian Schools Athletic Association as the No. 1 seed. The eight-team tournament begins on Thursday at Berean Baptist in Fayetteville.
The Conquerors' dominance was especially on displayed on Friday and Saturday at the Coastal Region Tournament at home. Behind a quintet of scorers -- Aaron Sladick, Taylor Stocks, Josh Brannan, Johnathan Spencer and T.J. Sasser -- Faith outscored Trinity and Mount Calvary by a combined score of 137-83.
Wayne Country Day (19-10), under the direction of first-year coach Chad Wiggins, will open the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association playoffs at home on Tuesday against Northeast Academy (16-9) out of Northampton County.
Adam Wright has paced WCDS with 27.9 points and eight rebounds per game, while teammate Tavon Waters is scoring 20 points and dishing out seven assists. Jeff Franklin is grabbing eight boards per outing.
The Chargers bowed out of the Coastal Plains Independent Conference Tournament in the semifinals against Rocky Mount Academy, also a playoff-qualifier. If the Chargers get past Northeast, they'll move on to the quarterfinals, hosted by Wesleyan Academy in High Point on Thursday.
Area conference qualifiers: Class 3-A -- Kinston (19-7) at Wilson Fike (21-5); Wilson Beddingfield (11-13) at South Central (15-9). Class 2-A -- Warren County (17-7) at Greene Central (16-9); North Lenoir (17-8) at Richlands (23-3); Farmville Central (12-9) at Pasquotank (18-5). Class 1-A -- Topsail (12-14) at Ayden-Grifton (14-8); Lakewood (15-10) at North Johnston (11-8).
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