Goldsboro falls to Farmville Central
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 24, 2008 2:51 AM
FARMVILLE -- Perhaps Goldsboro High boys basketball coach Tod Morgan's toughest task on Friday night wasn't figuring out how to beat Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference regular-season champ Farmville Central in its own gym.
Morgan's most-difficult assignment, instead, might have been explaining how his team lost when it did everything possible to win.
The Jaguars' Devon Atkinson intercepted Tavon Murchison's three-quarters-court pass and banked home a half-court 3 at the buzzer, giving the Jaguars a 73-70 victory and the EPC tournament title.
Atkinson's game-winner capped a wild fourth quarter in which the Jaguars tied the game three times in the final minute and a half. Atkinson made a layup and was fouled with just over six seconds remaining but missed what would have been the go-ahead free throw.
After nearly turning the ball over, the Cougars had possession on the baseline with a little more than two seconds remaining. Murchison attempted to throw the ball across half court and into the lane, but an alert Atkinson was there to pick it off.
"I told Tavon if it doesn't look good I'm going to take a timeout," Morgan said. "It didn't look good and I didn't take a timeout. We were trying to run a play we call 'curl,' and we were trying to curl two guys off back screens.
"I felt like if we could just get it to Keovanta (McDuffie) on a screen he could just get it and go with it. At that point we were tied and I could live with overtime."
Goldsboro (16-11 overall) led by eight points with less than six minutes to play before Atkinson and teammate Terrell Barrett took over. Atkinson delivered a three-point play that trimmed the lead to five, and Barrett drained three big 3's down the stretch.
Barrett's final, long-range bomb forged a 68-68 tie with 30 seconds left.
Murchison appeared to have put the finishing touches on Goldsboro's title quest with 12 seconds remaining. However, he missed the free throw and couldn't complete a three-point play.
That set up Atkinson's game-tying layup and eventual buzzer-beater.
"This is a tough one, it hurts," Morgan said. "There's a lot of teary eyes in the locker room tonight and that's a good sign. It shows me they really do care a lot about it and they have a lot of heart.
"I guess it just wasn't meant to be."
Goldsboro played without starting center Aric Sinclair, who suffered a broken hand in Thursday's practice. He's expected to sit for two or three weeks.
Nonetheless, the Cougars outworked the Jaguars on the glass all night, getting numerous putbacks and limiting Farmville Central's ability to score in transition.
"That was number one on our board," Morgan said of his team's rebounding. "We knew we had to get some stickback points. They run well and off a make it makes it a little bit harder."
Farmville Central (18-3) trailed throughout the third quarter as Goldsboro used a 10-4 run to build an eight-point advantage. A late turnover kept the Jaguars within striking distance, and helped lead to the nail-biting, fourth-quarter ending.
Murchison, an all-EPC tournament pick, led all scorers with 26 points. McDuffie finished with 14 points and earned a spot on the all-tournament squad. Doshamora Simms chipped in 12 points.
Atkinson and Barrett paced the Jaguars with 23 and 21 points, respectively. Each received all-tournament accolades and Barrett was named MVP.
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