02/19/08 — Goldsboro splits tournament games

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Goldsboro splits tournament games

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 19, 2008 2:57 PM

When conference tournament time rolls around, records, the regular season and previous meetings with an opponent take a back seat to survival.

Goldsboro's boys overcame a 13-point, first-quarter deficit and pulled out a 73-67 win over visiting Tarboro in the first round of the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference tournament on Monday.

The Cougars will play at North Pitt on Wednesday. Game time is 6 p.m.

The Vikings (4-19 overall) opened the fourth quarter on a 15-6 run and Donald Tabron's three-point play gave Tarboro a 64-63 lead with just under three minutes to play. Tabron finished with a game-high 24 points.

Goldsboro (15-10) outscored the Vikings 10-3 from that point, with all 10 points coming at the free throw line.

"We came out of the gates and didn't want to play, it looked like," Cougars head coach Tod Morgan said. "The guys did hang in there and kept battling and didn't give up. I'm definitely proud of the team.

"Our free throw shooting was good and that's always going to be key late in games."

With foul trouble plaguing the Cougars and in particular go-to guy Keovanta McDuffie, Morgan was forced to look elsewhere for offensive production. Aric Sinclair delivered a team-high 22 points, including 14 in the first half.

"Eric was big tonight," Morgan said. "He has such good touch for a big good. Fifteen feet in or 12 feet around the basket he's really good. Whenever we can get him the ball where he can get a good look at it, he can knock down some shots and he was big tonight."

Tarboro converted numerous Goldsboro turnovers into points and bolted to a 16-3 lead in the opening quarter. The Cougars trimmed the margin to 19-15, and took their first lead on Sinclair's layup less than three minutes into the second period.

McDuffie finished with 17 points. Tavon Murchison added 11 and Demetrio Irby had 10.

Goldsboro's girls were unable to survive against a Greene Central squad they had defeated twice in the regular season. The upset-minded Rams held off a late Cougars charge and escaped with a 51-47 road win.

Greene Central led 42-30 after three quarters but quickly saw its lead dwindle to 42-39 with less than three minutes to play. However, the Rams (3-22) looked nothing like a club with its season on the line and showed poise in key situations.

Shonice Pettaway sank a pair of free throws in a one-and-one situation with Greene Central clinging to a 48-47 lead and just 30 seconds left. Pettaway led all scorers with 20 points.

"I'm very proud of the girls for the fact that they stepped up and did what they needed to do at the end of the ballgame," Greene Central coach Tanya Winfield said. "They slowed down and the clock was on our side. We knew we had nothing to lose but everything to gain."

Goldsboro (11-13) missed five critical free throws over the final three minutes and couldn't come away with rebounds that would have given it second or third scoring chances. The Cougars were just 5 of 17 from the charity stripe.

"I knew this was going to be tough, and I was praying and hoping our girls wouldn't come out and take anything lightly but they did," Goldsboro head coach Brandy Smith said. "From my standpoint we should have never been in the situation where the game came down to free throws. Greene Central just wanted it and they wanted it more."

Ki'ana Williams paced the playoff-bound Cougars with 12 points. Zeara McDuffie and Millicent Kornegay each had 10.