12/31/07 — Goldsboro boys take second, while Saints end up fourth

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Goldsboro boys take second, while Saints end up fourth

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 31, 2007 2:45 PM

KINSTON -- Goldsboro's quest for a tournament championship and Southern Wayne's bid for a third-place finish in the 7th annual Holiday Classic at Lenoir Community College both fell short on Saturday night.

The maturity the Cougars and Saints gained over the weekend through the wars of competition may prove to be more valuable than any early-season tournament trophy ever will.

Both clubs appeared to grow up in the midst of overcoming double-digit second half deficits only to come up short.

Goldsboro (8-5 overall) rallied from 16 down to tie Stevens Prep at 59-59 on Keovanta McDuffie's layup with less than six minutes to play, before eventually falling 77-70.

Rakeem Chambers' 3-pointer put the Golden Griffins ahead for good at 64-61 with less than 31/2 minutes to go.

The Cougars' Doshamora Simms had an opportunity to tie the game with a pair of free throws but sank just one of two, leaving Stevens Prep ahead 65-64.

Numerous empty possessions down the stretch for Goldsboro which forced the Cougars to commit several late fouls to stop the clock helped the Golden Griffins finish the game on a 12-6 run.

Goldsboro seemed to suffer from big man Tim Hobbs fouling out.

"I'm proud of the kids for battling, we didn't give up," Cougars head coach Tod Morgan said. "We got down early and didn't play as well defensively as we would have liked, but I think we showed a lot of heart and a lot of team pride. We had a chance down the stretch."

Stevens Prep opened up a 49-33 lead less than three minutes into the second half, before Goldsboro began to battle back. Simms scored 12 straight Cougars' points during a 16-6 spurt to close the third quarter. He finished with 17 points, just two nights after having to leave the contest against St. James (S.C.) with a high ankle injury.

"At halftime, we just talked about the will to win, and the will to compete," Morgan said. "We worked our butts off and to get two wins against this type of competition and to get to play in a championship game, we'll learn a lot and we'll grow from that. That will help us when we get in our conference season."

The Cougars trailed by 11 points at the half and were down by 10 at the end of the first quarter.

McDuffie led the Cougars with 19 points and was named to the all-tournament squad. Kelvin Hayes finished with 19 points for Stevens Prep.

Southern Wayne rallied from a deficit of its own, overcoming a 12-point second-half margin to take the lead in the fourth quarter against Durham Hillside, before eventually losing 59-58.

Desmond Raiford's stickback momentarily gave the Saints (3-9) a 56-54 lead with less than a minute to play.

Hillside's Lattrell Royster calmly drained a 3 that put the Hornets ahead for good at 57-56. Holmar Henderson's free throws pushed the lead to 59-56 and Kendrick Thompson's jumper proved to be too little too late for the Saints.

"We definitely played better ball than we've been playing all season," Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephen said. "The turnovers are still plaguing us right now. We just take away some growth for our younger kids ...we just have to grow from this as far as being more prepared for the end of games and being able to finish games."

The Saints trailed 45-33 late in third quarter, but had the deficit down to 45-37 heading to the final eight minutes. A 10-0 run that included pair of steals that both ended with thunderous dunks from John Hart and was capped by a layup from Raiford tied the ballgame at 49-49.

Hart, an all-tournament selection, finished with 19 points for the Saints, who are previous two-time winners of the Holiday Classic. Thompson finished with 12 and Raiford added nine.