12/10/08 — Opinion -- Aycock teammates reaping hard work

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Opinion -- Aycock teammates reaping hard work

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 10, 2008 1:47 PM

Khendra Reid and Jonathan Williams were running out of chances to get 'em next year and the Charles B. Aycock seniors were beginning to wonder how much truth there was to "good things come to those who wait."

Reid and Williams had suffered through a winless campaign in 2006-07 as members of the Golden Falcons' basketball team and were a part of just three victories last season.

With Reid's commitment to Aycock's football team, the ever-present demands of school and decisions toward college that could forever impact their futures, Reid and Williams had plenty of reasons to throw in the towel on a struggling basketball program.

Rather than caving under the weight of repeated failure and disappointment, Reid and Williams chose to use their shortcomings as stepping stones to what has begun as a remarkable turnaround in their respective senior seasons.

The Golden Falcons are off to a 6-2 start highlighted by a pair of wins over county rival and perennial power Goldsboro. In those wins, Aycock demonstrated the maturity it gained from enduring blowout losses, long and quiet bus rides home and wondering if victories would ever come.

In their trip to Goldsboro in late November, the Golden Falcons watched a 17-point halftime lead evaporate. A year ago, Aycock may have wilted under similar circumstances in a hostile environment.

This isn't that team.

The Golden Falcons, battle-tested and eager to silence doubters, knocked down big shot after big shot and Molonza Hayes' late 3-pointer from the right wing proved to be a dagger in Goldsboro's heart en route to an 87-82 win.

Aycock built an 11-point halftime lead over Goldsboro in Pikeville last Friday before the Cougars, seemingly on cue, once again made a run.

After Goldsboro trimmed the deficit to six, Williams jump-started the Golden Falcons' response with a pair of buckets that ignited a 10-2 run. The Cougars mounted one last comeback before Devon Newsome's 3-pointer capped seven straight points from Aycock and turned out the lights for good on Goldsboro.

"That comes from two years ago and it comes from last season," said Golden Falcons head coach David West. "When you go through an 0-25 season with these seniors that were sophomores then, and you go through a three-win season last year and all of sudden these guys grow up.

"It's just a matter of these seniors growing up and being sick and tired of everything, and working hard."

Williams, a 6-foot-2 forward, entered Tuesday night's contest at Greene Central averaging nearly 12 points and seven rebounds per game. His double-double -- 14 points, 18 rebounds -- against Goldsboro prompted West to award him the game ball.

Meanwhile, the 6-3 Reid is averaging 10-plus points and five rebounds an outing. West describes him as "an All-American kid on the court and in the classroom."

Both Williams and Reid have elevated the play of their teammates. Junior guard Isaac Ryals is scoring over 12 points a ballgame and sophomore big man Brandon Winford is contributing over 11 points a night.

High school basketball success in today's standards is measured by conference titles, deep playoff runs and state championships.

With almost every reason imaginable to give up on a program splitting at the seams, Reid and Williams became winners not by knocking off Goldsboro, but by not walking out on one last shot at greatness.