02/22/08 — Dawg's rally comes up short in semis

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Dawg's rally comes up short in semis

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 22, 2008 2:32 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Too little, too late.

Princeton did everything possible to rally from a 19-point halftime deficit, but county archrival North Johnston prevailed 58-48 in their Class 1-A Carolina Conference semifinal game Thursday evening.

The Panthers face regular-season champion Ayden-Grifton for the tournament title today. The second-seeded Dawgs (17-5 overall) return to action next week in the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Unprepared for the Panthers' 1-3-1 halfcourt defense on the spacious floor at Mount Olive's Kornegay Arena, Princeton trailed 17-5 after one quarter.

"We came out and stood around. You have to play 32 minutes and tonight we didn't do that," Princeton coach Jeff Davis said. "I am proud of the way we competed in the second half, but it just wasn't enough."

The second period saw more hot shooting from the Panthers, as reserve forward Justin Price found his stroke. Combining with De'Endrick Hall for 18 points, Price led North Johnston to a 37-18 halftime advantage.

"The guys I have that could challenge (Price's) shot, couldn't keep him from getting open, and the guys that could stay on him, he would shoot over," Davis said.

Both the effort, and the offense improved for Princeton in the second half, as Ryan Daughtry came alive from the outside. The streaky guard ran the offense with fluid efficiency and scored the first eight points of the third quarter.

"Ryan can shoot us into it, and he really carried us tonight," Davis said. "I had to put him on Price and that was a tough assignment with all he was doing on the offensive end."

The Dawgs closed the gap to seven points in the fourth quarter. However, Price and Bryan Williams combined for six points on three consecutive possessions to put the game out of reach.

Top-seeded Ayden-Grifton easily defeated Rosewood 66-32 in the first semifinal.

The Chargers jumped out to a 20-6 lead in the first eight minutes thanks to ball control and hot shooting from Matt Dougherty. The Eagles failed to control the boards and gain possession of loose-ball opportunities.

"We wanted to come out and get things going early," Chargers coach Bob Murphrey said after the game. "Rosewood played us pretty tough the last time we met so we knew it was important to start fast."

The second quarter looked much like the first, as Ayden-Grifton continued to play inside-out and bury mid-range jumpers. Murphrey's team led 38-16 at the break.

The Chargers extended their lead in the third quarter. Both coaches emptied their respective benches to give their reserves playing time.

Dougherty finished with 23 points, while Stephen McIntyre collected 10 points for Rosewood.

"I really feel like we are peaking at the right time," Murphrey said. "We don't have much time to prepare, but these teams all know each other from the regular season, so it should be interesting."