Bruins upend Saints in semifinals
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 19, 2009 1:46 PM
DUDLEY -- It was there for the taking.
Southern Wayne let it slip away.
The Saints squandered golden scoring opportunities late and their comeback attempt fell short in a 56-50 loss to Wilson Beddingfield in the semifinals of the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference boys' basketball tournament Wednesday evening.
The fourth-seeded Bruins (12-14 overall) defeated second-seeded Southern Wayne for the first time in three tries this season. They'll play at defending state 3-A champion Kinston on Friday. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.
Beddingfield used an 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter to take a 46-41 lead with 4 1/2 minutes to play. The Saints (18-7) pulled to within 46-43 on Desmond Raiford's layup.
Dwight Smith's game-tying, 3-point attempt was off the mark and the Bruins' lead grew to 51-43 with just over 90 seconds left in regulation.
Smith's 3-pointer and Raiford's layup trimmed the margin to 54-50 with 21 seconds remaining. James Jones stepped to the free throw line with 19 seconds left, but couldn't convert a one-and-one opportunity.
Beddingfield sank two of four free throws in the final 16 seconds to seal the win. The Bruins scored 16 of their 18 fourth-quarter points off free throws and capitalized on 29 Southern Wayne turnovers for the game.
Beddingfield went 27 for 45, compared to 5 for 12 for Southern Wayne.
"When you have 29 turnovers, that's 29 times you don't shoot," said Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. "If you give Beddingfield that many opportunities, they're going to hurt you. At home, we missed some easy layups and we sent them to the free throw line.
"We got caught up in playing catch up and in that situation you've got to make them score field goals and we didn't do that."
The Saints trailed 30-22 at the half, but started the third quarter on an 11-1 run to take a 33-31 lead. The spurt was keyed by five Bruins' turnovers, six points from Raiford and a key 3-pointer from Justin Artis.
Southern Wayne outscored Beddingfield 17-8 in the third quarter to take a 39-38 lead and appeared to have the momentum heading into the final eight minutes.
Raiford finished with a game-high 21 points and Artis added seven. Terry Davis led the Bruins with 17 points, while Aaron Roundtree chipped in 10.
The Saints will look to regroup as they prepare to host Rocky Mount in the opening round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs next week.
"It should help you refocus," said Stephens of the loss. "We have some seniors that are pretty torn up over this. They wanted a shot at a conference tournament title, but the thing about it is you have to play every minute, of every quarter of every game before you move on to the next one.
"Now, it brings us back to reality."
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