02/17/08 — Goldsboro claims share of EPC title

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Goldsboro claims share of EPC title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 17, 2008 2:11 AM

Goldsboro High hasn't captured a regular-season conference championship in girls' basketball since 2005, and you can believe the Cougars had gotten a little defensive about that.

They proved it Friday evening.

Senior guard Danielle Irby drained two free throws with 17.4 seconds remaining as Goldsboro edged Farmville Central 64-60 on senior night. The Cougars (11-12 overall) tied with Tarboro and North Lenoir for a piece of the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference regular-season crown -- the program's first since 2005 and sixth overall since 1980.

"I never would have guessed it," said Goldsboro alum and second-year coach Brandy Smith of the title run. "I thought we'd need another good year to get adjusted to players knowing their roles and how to play them in our system."

However, Farmville Central nearly spoiled the evening.

The Jaguars drained their first five shots from the floor, all layups off defensive lapses by the Cougars, and led 10-2 less than four minutes into the contest.

Goldsboro didn't get rattled.

Millicent Kornegay's layup off Tiffany Pearsall's assist gave the Cougars their first lead, 23-22, early in the second quarter. The teams traded three ties and one lead change until Ki'ana Williams buried a 3-pointer after rebounding a missed shot by Irby.

The Cougars led 34-32 at halftime.

"Rebounding and adjusting in our zone defense are the only reasons we got back into the game," said Smith. "They came out and executed. We cut off some offensive rebounds they had been getting, and allowed them to just one shot.

"We were able to get some transition baskets."

After a nail-biting third quarter, Kornegay's layup from Irby and Irby's 3-pointer off Williams' assist pushed the lead to 51-46. The Jaguars (6-14, 4-6 EPC) continued to hang around and forged ahead 56-55 on Shaquoya May's two free throws.

Two lead changes later, Zeara McDuffie converted an offensive putback as Goldsboro moved in front 60-59. Half a minute later, McDuffie drew an intentional foul and drained both free throws.

Farmville Central never recovered.

Once the clock tripped to all zeroes, Williams tossed the ball into the air and the Cougars celebrated their first league championship since the Gladys McClary era. McClary led the Cougars to three consecutive Eastern Carolina 3-A titles from 2003-05 before Smith's arrival.

Victoria Williams led five Cougars in double figures with 17 points. Kornegay chipped in 13, while Ki'ana Williams added a double-double -- 12 points, 11 assists. McDuffie and Irby supplied 10 points apiece.

The Cougars enter the EPC tournament on a six-game win streak. They'll play host to Greene Central on Monday. Tip-off is 6 p.m.

"We're growing together ... maturing together," said Smith, whose team won its sixth consecutive game. "They're becoming accustomed to my system and playing together in it has given them confidence. It's showing up for us."