02/19/09 — Goldsboro girls reach finals

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Goldsboro girls reach finals

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

Where were they?

Third-year Goldsboro High girls' basketball coach Brandy Smith wondered if her team would ever show up Wednesday evening.

North Pitt dictated the tempo, boxed out defensively and seemed poised to upset the regular-season Eastern Plains 2-A Conference champions. But the Cougars finally appeared when it mattered the most.

Akeyanna Whitlor buried four consecutive shots off assists from Ki'Ana and Victoria Williams, and Goldsboro escaped 53-43 in the EPC tournament semifinals. The top-seeded Cougars (18-7 overall) welcome Farmville Central at 6 p.m. Friday.

The Panthers (11-13) oppose Greene Central in a tie-breaking game at 4:30 p.m. at Cougar Gymnasium. The winner earns the league's No. 3 seed for next week's N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

"Did you see them out there?" queried Smith. "I didn't know where they were the first three quarters. We finally showed up and that's how we proved that we're supposed to be here."

Goldsboro failed to attack North Pitt's 2-3 zone for three quarters and settled for outside shots. The Panthers limited the Cougars to one shot and played a deliberate pace on the offensive end of the court.

Smith's team missed nine consecutive field goals in the third quarter and trailed 40-36 heading into the final period.

"We didn't attack ... weren't moving," said Smith. "We didn't have any intensity. North Pitt came out the first three quarters and acted like they wanted it a little bit more than we did.

"We stayed in the game ... didn't allow them to get into a double-digit lead."

Whitlor hit two short, turnaround jumpers as the Cougars pulled within 41-40 as time quickly ticked away in the fourth quarter. Zeara McDuffie pushed the Cougars ahead 42-41 with two free throws at the 4-minute, 53-second mark.

After a Whitlor basket, North Pitt's Sharon Spruill drove to the basket and got fouled as she kissed a layup off the glass. Spruill missed the free throw and North Pitt didn't score again. The Panthers converted just one field goal in the final 10 minutes and tallied three fourth-quarter points.

Whitlor and Ki'Ana Williams, who led all scorers with 17 points, combined for the final eight points of the contest. Williams drained six consecutive free throws as Goldsboro advanced to its first EPC tournament final with Smith as head coach.

"We finally did the things we were supposed to be doing in the first through third quarters," said Smith of the comeback.