Wayne Country Day nips winless North Duplin
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 11, 2007 2:51 PM
Something had to give.
Two teams hungry to end frustrating losing streaks staged a nail-biting, non-conference contest Wednesday evening in the Wayne Country Day gymnasium. Ajay Fowler sank two free throws with 14.9 seconds remaining and the Chargers foiled winless North Duplin 63-59 before a sparse turnout.
Wayne Country Day (5-8 overall) snapped a four-game skid and rebounded from a disappointing effort Tuesday against state-ranked Cape Fear Christian. The Chargers let a first-half, 10-point lead slip away and eventually endured a six-point loss.
North Duplin, meanwhile, suffered its third consecutive defeat by three points or less. The Rebels pulled within one point on three occasions in the final period against the Chargers, but couldn't convert the go-ahead basket.
"We missed some shots during that time ... couldn't quite knock them down," said North Duplin coach Ricky Edwards.
Chargers head coach Mike Ellis applauded his team's poise and its depth in the last eight minutes of play. Wayne Country Day worked its spread offense to near perfection in the second half and forced the Rebels to extend their defense away from the basket. The ploy created offensive opportunities and prevented the visitors from completing their comeback attempt.
Floronta Wynn swished a 3-pointer and added a layup in the final 70 seconds of regulation to help hand North Duplin its sixth road loss of the season. Wynn posted his 13th consecutive game in double figures with 17 points and eclipsed the 300-point plateau for the season.
Fowler added 12 points, while Kyle Pender provided 11 points and seven rebounds. Kam Byrd came off the bench to score 10 points, including two 3-pointers. All eight Chargers scratched in the scoring column and at least seven players dished out one or more assists.
Ryan Killette led three North Duplin players in double figures with a game-high 18 points. Desi Smith contributed 12 points and Chris Graham knocked down 11. Point guard Doug Lloyd handed out seven assists, pulled down nine rebounds and tallied nine points.
"Overall, I was pleased," said Edwards. "We would have liked to won, but we played hard and the boys did everything we asked them to do.
"I think you have to learn in tight games and you can't get down on yourself, but just keep playing. We're getting better."
North Duplin trailed by 11 in the opening half and climbed to within three at the break. Lloyd drained a 17-footer to give the Rebels their first lead, 30-29, with 5-plus minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Chargers answered with an 8-2 run, but watched the visitors forge a 42-42 tie on Desi Smith's offensive putback. Byrd nailed his first 3-pointer to put WCDS back in front 45-42.
The Rebels climbed within 49-48 and grabbed four consecutive offensive rebounds on one possession, but couldn't score.
"We couldn't knock them down and that's the way it goes sometimes," said Edwards.
The Chargers hit two more baskets, including Byrd's second 3-pointer, to make it 54-48.
"That was very key for us with Kam coming off the bench and hitting those two threes," said Ellis.
Lloyd's layup off Smith's assist closed the gap to 54-53. Demetrius Vann created a 56-56 deadlock with a free throw at the 1-minute, 46-second mark.
Wynn and Killette traded 3-pointers within an 18-second stretch. Wynn added a layup out of the Chargers' spread offense and Fowler canned the game-clinching free throws about half a minute later.
"We've had such a bad run with close games as of late, you always get that creeping feeling on the bench of how are we going to lose (this time)," said Ellis. "It just seemed like when we had to spread the ball, we were more settled offensively and did a better job. Yes, I think we showed some poise in the fourth quarter."
North Duplin 9 15 20 15 -- 59
W. Country Day 14 13 20 16 -- 63
NORTH DUPLIN (0-8)
Demetrius Vann 1 0 3-4 5, Ryan Killette 5 2 2-2 18, Desi Smith 4 1 1-1 12, Billy Mello 0 0 0-0 0, Doug Lloyd 3 1 0-0 9, Chris Graham 4 1 0-0 11, Daniel Cates 0 0 1-2 1, Brian McDuffy 1 0 1-5 3. TOTALS -- 18 5 8-15 59.
WAYNE COUNTRY DAY (5-8)
Ajay Fowler 3 1 3-4 12, Floronta Wynn 6 1 2-3 17, Kyle Pender 4 1 0-0 11, Jeff Franklin 4 0 0-1 8, Shadoe Stewart 1 0 0-0 2, David Wilson 0 0 1-2 1, Kameron Byrd 1 2 2-2 10, Lamar Carpenter 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 20 5 8-12 63.
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