Spring Creek upsets No. 7-ranked East Columbus
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 24, 2006 2:24 PM
KENANSVILLE -- That 10-game losing streak is a forgotten memory now. The Spring Creek men's basketball team is one victory shy of grabbing its first-ever trip to the eastern regionals.
Dalreese Bell knocked down two 3-pointers in the final 92 seconds of regulation and the Gators stunned state-ranked East Columbus 75-67 at historic Kenansville Memorial Auditorium. East Columbus, the Waccamaw champion, had its 17-game win streak snapped and concluded the year 19-6.
Absent from the postseason a year ago, Spring Creek (14-14) earned its second trip to the sectional finals with third-year head coach Sonny Kilpatrick. The Gators oppose Lejeune, which eliminated defending eastern champion North Johnston 53-47, on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
"The guys ... there just is not any quit in them," said Kilpatrick.
Less than two months ago, Spring Creek didn't even appear as a blip on the playoff radar screen. The Gators toiled through some inner-team turmoil and fashioned a disappointing 4-10 worksheet heading into their Carolina Conference schedule.
Kilpatrick's squad discovered a little confidence and created some much-needed team unity once league play began. Spring Creek slowly climbed up the conference ladder and eventually seized the No. 3 seed for the postseason.
Two months later, that radar blip is strong and bright on the screen. The Gators are 10-4 since January 3 and that long losing streak is now a distant thought.
"I'm just so proud of them," said a grinning Kilpatrick.
East Columbus, ranked No. 7 in the latest NCpreps.com 1-A poll, held Spring Creek to a single field goal in the first 51/2 minutes of the game. But the Gators rebounded to forge ties at 9-9, 11-11 and 13-13 after one quarter of action.
Bell's 3-pointer off Josh Wright's assist gave Spring Creek a 16-13 advantage early in the second quarter. Kilpatrick's team kept a one-possession lead until East Columbus employed a trapping defense that broke the Gators' offensive rhythm.
Kilpatrick burned one timeout and his players called two more when they couldn't break the trap near midcourt. East Columbus capitalized on three consecutive turnovers and owned a 28-25 lead at halftime.
"We got a chance (at halftime) to talk about what they were doing with that trapping zone defense they were running," said Kilpatrick. "We figured out what to do to beat it. In the third quarter, we took it to them."
Wright and shooting guard Cliff Wilson easily broke the pressure in the third quarter, and eighth-grader Desmund Raeford flourished underneath the basket. Raeford collected eight of his 12 points as Spring Creek eventually pulled ahead 36-35.
Bell, Wright, Wilson and Daniel Chewning each drained a 3-pointer as the Gators extended their lead to 57-46.
East Columbus established its trapping scheme again and forced Spring Creek into an up-tempo game. The Gators rushed a few shots, committed a couple of costly turnovers and couldn't keep East Columbus off the offensive boards.
The 11-point lead vanished and the teams were tied at 61.
"We lost the lead because we changed what we were doing," said Kilpatrick. "We started taking the ball one on one and didn't give it to the big man (Raeford) because they had no defense against the big man."
Raeford's layup underneath off Wright's assist put Spring Creek back in front 66-64. Jerry Moore dropped in a 3-pointer, giving East Columbus its last lead -- 67-66 -- with 1:32 left in regulation.
The Gators missed their next shot, but Wilson tracked down a rebound in the corner and threw the ball to Bell. Bell, who emerged one of five Gators in double figures with 20 points, swished a 3-pointer.
Raeford (14 points, 12 rebounds) stole the ball on East Columbus' next possession and fed Wright for an uncontested layup. Chewning (12 points, six rebounds, four steals) and Bell accounted for the Gators' final four points.
Wilson dished out five of his game-high seven assists in the second half and tallied 11 points. Wright finished with 15 points, six assists and five rebounds.
Once the contest ended, Kilpatrick looked toward his family in the stands and pumped his right fist in jubilation. Players and cheerleaders celebrated behind him, and school officials offered their congratulations.
"I love it when a good job is done and that happened tonight," said Kilpatrick.
2006 N.C. High School
Class 1-A Sectional No. 4
(at Kenansville Auditorium)
Spring Creek 13 12 28 22 -- 75
East Columbus 13 15 15 24 -- 67
SPRING CREEK (14-14)
Cliff Wilson 3 1 2-3 11, Daniel Chewning 2 1 5-8 12, Maurice Langston 1 0 0-0 2, Dalreese Bell 4 4 0-0 20, Davis Harris 0 0 1-2 1, Josh Wright 6 0 3-6 15, Carsheme Ruffin 0 0 0-0 0, Desmund Raeford 6 0 2-5 14. TOTALS -- 22 6 13-23 75.
EAST COLUMBUS (19-6)
Jerry Moore 6 3 2-6 23, B.J. Patrick 3 0 3-6 9, O'dell Hampton 4 0 2-5 10, Cameron Spears 4 0 1-2 9, Samuel Graham 1 0 1-2 3, Derrick Baldwin 2 0 2-2 6, Jim Freeman 1 0 1-1 3, Jermaine Waddell 2 0 0-0 4. TOTALS -- 23 3 12-24 67.
3-point goals -- S. Creek 6 (Bell 4, Chewning, Wilson), E. Columbus 3 (Moore 3). Turnovers -- S. Creek 19, E. Columbus 21. Total fouls -- S. Creek 21, E. Columbus 22. Fouled out -- Freeman. Technical fouls -- none.
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