02/19/09 — Cougars earn rematch with Hawks

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Cougars earn rematch with Hawks

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 19, 2009 1:46 PM

The late Norvelle Lee always said "the cream rises to the top" and that protecting your homecourt was crucial in basketball.

He couldn't have been more proud Wednesday evening.

Goldsboro High, where Lee roamed the sidelines for many seasons barking at officials, put together yet another stirring fourth-quarter rally. Rasean Brewington tallied seven fourth-quarter points as the Cougars turned back Tarboro 63-59 in semifinal-round action in the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference boys' basketball tournament.

The top-seeded Cougars (18-7 overall) entertain perennial power North Lenoir at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

"I always say the first game in a tournament is the hardest one for you to win because the intensity changes so much," said Goldsboro coach Chris Cherry. "They played an overtime game on Monday night, so they were tournament ready. I thought it took us a little while to find our intensity."

The Vikings (13-11) dictated the tempo for two-plus quarters and controlled the boards with 6-foot-6 center George Blakeney, who altered numerous shots underneath the basket. Blakeney poured in a game-high 25 points on 12 field goals and a conventional three-point play in the opening quarter.

Tarboro converted six of its first seven offensive possessions in the third quarter and extended its advantage to 41-32 with about five minutes to go. But the Vikings endured a seven-minute, field-goal drought and Goldsboro slowly chipped away at the deficit.

Brewington's 3-pointer off an inbounds pass closed the gap to 44-43. Blakeney gave the Vikings a two-possession advantage with a layup underneath off James Calhoun's assist.

Two plays later, Goldsboro took its first lead -- 51-50 -- on Tyrelle Jackson's three-point play. Jackson, who posted a double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds), grabbed an offensive rebound and got fouled as the ball rolled through the net.

"We decided to attack the basket," said Cherry.

Calhoun answered, but Jackson countered with two more free throws to give the Cougars a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Demetrio Irby and Brewington (16 points) combined to hit 6 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter to thwart the Vikings' upset bid.

Goldsboro finished a season-best 21 of 23 from the charity stripe.

"I thought we rushed them a little bit offensively, got a couple of traps set and they turned the ball over a little bit," said Cherry of the fourth quarter. "Tyrelle and Rasean decided they were going to attack the basket."

The Cougars earned their third victory over the Vikings this season.

"I told the guys the best team doesn't always win a tournament setting ... it's one and done," said Cherry. "A couple of kids get hot or couple of kids get in foul trouble, and all of a sudden, it's a dogfight.

"I was proud of their effort. It was like chopping a tree, almost. We kept chopping and finally knocked it down."