Hawks roll past Cougars
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 13, 2009 1:46 PM
Goldsboro couldn't finish its business.
And North Lenoir exacted a little revenge on the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference men's basketball scene Thursday evening.
Chris McPhail and Maurice Morgan pumped in 19 points apiece as the Hawks claimed a surprising 70-41 victory at Cougar Gymnasium. The Cougars failed to clinch the EPC regular-season title outright and earn the No. 1 seed for the upcoming state playoffs.
Instead, Goldsboro (16-7 overall, 7-2 EPC) must defeat Farmville Central tonight to earn top-seed status for the postseason.
"They whupped our butts ... handed them to us. You can't X and O (this game) to come up with an explanation," said Cougars coach Chris Cherry. "Give them all the credit in the world. They've been the best team in our league and that was the best team we've played all year tonight."
The teams split the regular-season series with each prevailing on the opponent's homecourt. The Hawks (15-7, 6-3) could grab a share of the EPC crown depending on the outcomes of tonight's contests.
North Lenoir limited Goldsboro to 18 first-half points -- its second-lowest offensive output of the season since a 17-point effort against Eastern Wayne on Dec. 2, 2008. James Williams paced the Cougars' offense with 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting from the floor during that stretch. However, his teammates combined to shoot a miserable 1 of 19 in the opening 16 minutes.
"(And) we gave up just as many (points) on the defensive end," said Cherry.
The Hawks used a 14-0 run and 10-minute scoring drought by the Cougars to seize control in the first half.
"Very crucial (first quarter)," said North Lenoir coach Eric Waters. "We adjusted our starting lineup because we thought tonight we needed to come out with a lot of energy at the beginning. That shuffle paid off for us."
Waters praised the performance of Morgan, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward who is used mainly for defense and rebounding. Inserted into the starting five, Morgan collected 11 first-half points, picked Goldsboro for three steals and helped control the boards.
North Lenoir led 35-18 at halftime and extended its advantage to 54-30 after three quarters.
Senior forward Tyrelle Jackson, who spent the first half in foul trouble, contributed eight points and seven rebounds. Williams ended up one rebound shy of a double-double. Demetrio Irby supplied six points in the Cougars' most-lopsided defeat of the season.
"We've played two bad games in one week and have a third game to play tomorrow night," said Cherry. "At some point, you need to look inside yourself and come up with a better effort. There is nothing the coach can do for you."
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