Ram tough: Greene Central squeezes past Goldsboro's boys
By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on February 7, 2007 2:21 PM
Back in December, the Goldsboro Cougars fully expected that come February, there would be boasting and celebrating on their court.
What Goldsboro didn't expect was for their opponent, the Greene Central Rams, to be the team doing all of the partying.
The Rams moved closer to clinching the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference title and dethroning defending champion Goldsboro with a 66-64 victory over the Cougars at the Cougar Den on Tuesday night.
"We want to win the conference, but you've got North Pitt, Tarboro, Farmville and Goldsboro," said Greene Central coach Robert Browning. "There are so many good teams in the conference that are really hard to beat. We're so much smaller so we've got to be so much more aggressive and just have to play as a team just to compete."
By being the more aggressive team, the Rams had Goldsboro playing catch-up all night, including on the final possession of the game.
The Rams held a 65-62 advantage when Goldsboro's Reco McCarter was fouled and proceeded to sink both free throws with nine seconds to play.
On Greene Central's ensuing possession, Chavalier Howell was fouled and sank the first foul shot.
Goldsboro coach Randy Jordan called a timeout to set up the crucial final possession.
"We wanted to get the rebound and go to the basket," Jordan said. "In the timeout, we told them to attack the basket."
Howell's next free throw was off and Daquan Joyner ripped down the rebound for the Cougars, but instead of taking off for the basket, Joyner passed the ball to point guard Eric McLean who looped around the basket and lofted a long pass to Tim Kornegay. Kornegay never got a clean grip on the ball and lost it out of bounds as he drove to the basket as the final buzzer sounded.
"We missed on a couple of opportunities down the stretch that we didn't execute on, but we had our chances to win," said Jordan.
As the final horn sound, the Greene Central players and coaches erupted onto the court, mobbing each over while pointing one finger towards the sky.
"We played so hard and almost gave it away," said Browning, whose team beat Goldsboro for the third straight time.
The loss had a familiar theme for the Cougars in that there were stretches of poor play during the first half and spectacular play in the second.
"It's a tale of two halves," said Jordan. "If we played the first half like we played the second half, it's a different story. We've got to show up right from the start ready to play.
"For whatever reason, it takes us a little time to get some intensity."
The Rams never trailed in the first half and led Goldsboro by as many as 11 points.
In the third quarter, a layup from Tre Travis put the Rams up by 12, but Greene Central would then go cold as the Cougars gained momentum.
A Joyner rebound and putback basket would ignite a 12-0 Cougar run which tied the game at 48-48.
"In the second half, Goldsboro just took it to us," said Browning. "When they really want to step it up they can."
The Cougars eventually gained their first lead of the night at 54-52 when Tavon Murchison connected on his jumper with 7:43 to play, but the Rams would go back up by five after a big 3-pointer from Reggie Johnson and a layup from Albert Barron.
Goldsboro refused to go quietly, thanks to the play of Kornegay who scored seven of the Cougars final 10 points, giving them a chance to win at the end.
"We never question Tim's intensity or his heart," said Jordan. "He has all of those in multitude."
Kornegay led the Cougars (13-10, 3-6) with a game-high 27 points and 10 rebounds. Hobbs added 14 points and Joyner tallied 10 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Howell led three Rams (16-6, 8-1) in double-figures with 15 points. Travis chipped in with 13 and Johnson finished with 12 points.
"I'm extremely proud of the guy's effort in the second half," said Jordan. "If we play with that kind of intensity, heart and passion (all the time) then it's a different outcome and we're in a different position in the conference standings."
The Lady Rams remained a perfect 4-0 all-time in conference play against Goldsboro as they defeated the Cougars in the first game, 45-37.
The Goldsboro girls -- like the boys -- had their chances for a victory, but fell victim to turnovers.
"They had the chances, but it just goes back to youth again," said Goldsboro coach Brandy Smith. "Being in position to win and not getting over the hump -- I think that's just been our Achille's heel this whole season."
The Rams (13-9, 7-2) were led by Briana Stanton, who recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Shanice Pettaway also recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.
Goldsboro (4-18, 2-7) was led by a pair of double-double performers as well as Johneshia Maye scored a team-high 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while Carmille Early added 12 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks and three steals.
Greene Central found early success against the Goldsboro man-to-man defense as the Rams built a 15-8 lead after the first quarter.
Goldsboro adjusted its defense, switching to a match-up zone that provided immediate dividends.
"In the first quarter we were playing man and it wasn't working -- they were penetrating so in the second quarter we went to the match-up zone and they only scored one point," said Smith. "We went with that defense the whole second half because they've got guards who can penetrate and we wanted to keep our guards out of foul trouble."
By holding the Rams to the single point, the game was tied at 16 entering the third quarter.
The second half was back and forth as neither team could gain a cushion. After two ties and eight lead changes, Greene Central went on an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to grab a 39-32 lead with 5:01 to play.
Pettaway did most of the damage for the Rams, scoring six of her points during the spurt.
Goldsboro mounted one last push as Maye drained a 3-pointer in front of the Cougar bench to cut the lead back to four.
"She was very composed with the shot," said Smith. "She didn't rush it. When it left her hands I knew she had it."
Greene Central held off the Cougars in the final minutes with help from its defense as it forced nine fourth-quarter turnovers and made six of its 10 shots from the line.
"Turnovers were big and it's something we talk about all the time," said Smith, whose team turned the ball over 32 times. "If we had just cut half of our turnovers it could have been a different outcome."
Greene Central 19 21 12 14 -- 66
Goldsboro 14 18 20 12 -- 64
GREENE CENTRAL (16-6, 8-1)
Chavalier Howell 2 2 5-8 15, Tre Travis 5 0 3-4 13, Reggie Johnson 3 2 0-1 12, Albert Barron 4 0 0-0 8, Danny Moye 3 0 0-0 6, Marcus Lee 0 1 2-2 5, Brandon Sutton 1 0 3-4 5, Curt Braswell 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 19 5 13 66.
GOLDSBORO (13-10, 3-6)
Tim Kornegay 11 0 5-6 27, Tim Hobbs 5 0 4-6 14, Daquan Joyner 5 0 0-1 10, Reco McCarter 2 1 2-2 9, Tavon Murchison 1 0 0-0 2, Treme' Boone 1 0 0-0 2, Eric McLean 0 0 0-0 0. TOTALS -- 25 1 11-15 64.
Greene Central 15 1 15 14 -- 45
Goldsboro 8 8 14 7 -- 37
GREENE CENTRAL (13-9, 7-2)
Briana Stanton 5 0 5-10 15, Shanice Pettaway 5 0 4-5 14, Natasha Williams 3 0 2-4 8, Tempest Pettaway 3 0 1-2 7, Shawan Daniels 0 0 1-4 1. TOTALS -- 16 0 13 45.
GOLDSBORO (4-18, 2-7)
Johneshia Maye 5 1 0-0 13, Carmille Early 5 0 2-2 12, Kianna Williams 2 0 0-0 4, Millicent Kornegay 2 0 0-0 4, Danielle Irby 1 0 1-2 3, Tiffany Burden 0 0 1-2 1. TOTALS -- 15 1 4-6 37.
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