02/15/07 — Eastern Wayne advances to ECC Championship game

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Eastern Wayne advances to ECC Championship game

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 15, 2007 2:21 PM

Basement tenant a year ago, the Eastern Wayne women's basketball team has become destiny's darling.

The Warriors continued their amazing one-season turnaround with an impressive 61-45 victory over Wilson Hunt on Wednesday evening. Junior forward Brittani Billups flirted with a triple-double -- 15 points, 17 rebounds, five blocked shots -- as Eastern Wayne advanced to Friday's Class 3-A Eastern Carolina Conference tournament final.

The Warriors, who managed just two wins last season, clinched the No. 2 seed and a first-round home game in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. Eastern Wayne (10-11 overall) will entertain the No. 4 seed from the Coastal 8 Conference next Tuesday.

A loss to Hunt could have clouded the Warriors' postseason picture and left their seeding in doubt. With the defeat, Hunt (13-10) settled for the No. 3 seed and travels to unbeaten South Central next Tuesday.

"That was probably one of the better games we played all year," said fourth-year Eastern Wayne head coach Brent Holland. "From (player) one to 12, everyone played well and played a good part (in the win).

"I'm extremely happy for the girls."

Eastern Wayne's Yasmine Washington nearly posted a double-double with 17 points and seven rebounds. The senior forward dished out four assists, picked Hunt for three steals and blocked two shots.

More importantly, Washington set the tone when Hunt double-teamed Billups during the early stages of the opening quarter. Washington scored the first six points and drew defensive attention, which gave Billups a little breathing space.

Billups managed five first-quarter points, but controlled the boards with eight rebounds and one blocked shot.

"Yasmine attacked the basket early, Billups rebounded some shots and got started," said Holland. "Eboni ran our offense (well) and we had other girls to step up and hit their jump shots because they were doubling Brittani.

"Our girls weren't afraid to make a mistake and take shots."

Reid supplied a game-high five assists and collected six of her eight points in the second half. Tiara McIntyre pumped in 10 second-half points and handed out three assists. Lindsey Frederick and Noelle Kelly (three assists) joined the scoring act in the second half.

Overall, the Warriors played unselfishly as a team and notched 17 assists on 23 field goals.

Eastern Wayne bolted to an early lead in the first quarter, but Hunt responded from the outside shooting of Chelsea Atkinson and Krystal Smith. Atkinson hit two 3-pointers and Smith canned two short jumpers as the visiting Warriors moved in front 16-13.

Holland's Warriors grabbed controlled with a dominating 18-2 run which lasted nine-plus minutes. Hunt failed to convert a field goal in the second quarter and Atkinson ended the drought with two free throws at the 1-minute, 56-second mark.

"We match up well against Hunt," said Holland. "We knew 22 (Smith) had 32 the other night against Southern Wayne. We knew she could shoot, so we let Brittany and Yasmine control the inside.

"We just extended our wings outside to have a hand in their face."

Hunt committed two turnovers to start the third quarter and Eastern Wayne converted both miscues into baskets. Holland's Warriors maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the second half and were never threated.

Billups' conventional three-point play gave Eastern Wayne a 55-39 advantage less than 30 seconds into the final period. Hunt pulled within 55-41, but Reid silenced the visitors' comeback attempt with a free throw and 3-pointer off McIntyre's assist.

Eastern Wayne earned its first-ever appearance in the ECC tournament championship under Holland's direction. The Warriors oppose top-seeded and defending NCHSAA 3-A state champion Wilson Beddingfield at 6 p.m. Friday.

"Getting to the championship game speaks volumes for our program," said Holland. "We know it's going to be extremely tough going to Beddingfield. But for our young team, it's good to get that experience."

Hunt 16 2 14 13 -- 45

Eastern Wayne 17 14 17 13 -- 61


Victoria White 1 0 0-0 2, Jessica McNair 1 0 0-0 2, Chelsea Atkinson 2 3 4-4 17, Krystal Smith 6 0 2-2 14, Kiara Jones 1 0 0-0 2, Crystal Artis 3 0 0-0 6, Spencer Winbourne 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 15 3 6-6 45.


Noelle Kelly 2 0 0-1 4, Lindsey Frederick 1 0 0-0 2, Yasmine Washington 5 2 1-2 17, Eboni Reid 2 1 1-2 8, Tiara McIntyre 2 1 3-4 10, Danielle Daniels 0 1 2-2 5, Brittani Billups 6 0 3-6 15. TOTALS -- 18 5 10-17 61.