Gryphons end SW's run
Published in Sports on February 26, 2006 2:18 AM
By CLAY HARRIS
Courtesy Rocky Mount Telegram
ROCKY MOUNT -- Beginning the season 0-7 is not every coach's dream, but to win the sectional title is definitely one.
Very rarely do both happen in one season. But for Rocky Mount varsity boys head coach Mike Gainey and his Gryphons, that's is exactly what happened Saturday night as they knocked off Southern Wayne 67-63 at Rocky Mount High School.
Southern Wayne, the Eastern Carolina Conference champs and ranked No. 2 in Class 3-A by www.ncpreps.com, came into to the game touting a 23-2 record.
Rocky Mount (16-11), the NEW 6 Conference champs, will now move on to regional play, which begins next week.
"Everybody seemed to look down on us a little and thought we didn't have kids that were ready to play but they were ready to play," Rocky Mount head coach Mike Gainey said. "I think everybody was on point tonight, they were just hungry."
The Saints, fresh off a 16-point victory in their second-round game against Washington, jumped on top early with a three by Derek Garris. But that would be the last time the Saints saw the lead as Rocky Mount would answer right away with 10 unanswered points.
"Our boys played hard," Saints head coach Mike Connelly said. "Obviously our guys feel bad losing. As physical as they allowed the game to be, it was hard on us because we're not that big. It was a challenge for us but our kids never backed down from that challenge."
The game was a clash of two totally different teams. The Saints relied heavily on their speed and shooting ability while the Gryphons had a distinct height advantage with 6-foot-4 inch Greg Battle and 6-foot-7 inch Montrell Brinkley patrolling the paint.
Rocky Mount would use that advantage and often with Battle scoring 17 points and bringing down 11 rebounds, while Brinkley contributing eight points and 17 boards.
Rocky Mount would also use one other concept to their advantage: teamwork. The Gryphons were able to slow down the speedy Saints' squad and force them into difficult shots. The Saints attempted 60 shots, connecting on only 20 (33 percent). In fact, of the Saints' 60 shots, 32 came from beyond the arc - where Southern Wayne was 28 percent on the night.
"It wasn't a one-man show tonight," Gainey said. "The team had guys stepping up playing. We only wanted to give them one shot, one chance at it tonight, and the guys really controlled the boards tonight. We got inside when we needed to get inside. We got the easy layups and that's our game.
"We don't want to stay outside and shoot all night long. We want to go back to the old school, inside-outside, and that's what we did tonight."
Despite the Gryphons turning the ball over 23 times, the biggest story of the night came on the glass. Rocky Mount outrebounded Southern Wayne, 42-26.
Saints star Akeem Royal, who posted 24 points in the previous game, started slowly - scoring only six points in the first half. But he caught fire in the second half, finishing with 20 points and five boards. He was followed by Delawn Armwood, who chipped in 17 points and three boards.
"The game was fast paced, energetic, and competitive," Battle said. "They made some good shots. We matched up with him. I take my hat off to the boys -- they can play."
Coming up big for the Gryphons was sixth man turned starter Chastain Dickens. He contributed 14 points - including going six of eight from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter - and three boards.
"Chastain has been the unsung hero for us as a senior," Gainey said. "It's real tough to ask a senior to play behind a kid or come off the bench when he wants to be a star. But he has actually just taken Alonzo underneath his wing and he's been mentoring. He's been the sixth man. He brought the leadership tonight and he carried the team."
Southern Wayne 13 15 16 16 -- 63
Rocky Mount 18 17 13 19 -- 67
SOUTHERN WAYNE (63)
Akeem Royal 20, Delawn Armwood 17, Antonio Davis 12, Austin Hood 1, Derek garris 6, Anthony Council 2, Justin Bellamy 5, Paris Armwood.
ROCKY MOUNT (67)
Tory Parker 15, Greg Battle 17, Montrell Battle 7, Montrell Brinkley 8, Chastain Dickens 14, Alonzo Sharpe 6, Matthew Virgil, Tremain Hollaway.
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