02/22/09 — Farmville Central ends Cougars' winning streak

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Farmville Central ends Cougars' winning streak

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 22, 2009 2:00 AM

The best thing about a winning streak?

When it ends, you can start a new one.

All-tournament selection Crystal Smith tallied a team-high 25 points as Farmville Central dusted top-seeded Goldsboro 75-64 and claimed the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference girls' tournament title Friday evening. The second-seeded Jaguars snapped the Cougars' 10-game win streak.

Tournament MVP Gecora Brown added 22 points for Farmville Central, which avenged two regular-season losses to Goldsboro.

"We practiced all day yesterday (Thursday) by keying in on 14 (Brown) and 15 (Smith) the whole time," said third-year Goldsboro coach Brandy Smith. "We knew Smith was going to be their spark inside running around the free throw area and knew Brown was going to be their shooter. We had things set up, but didn't execute defensively."

However, the turning point occurred 30 seconds into the second quarter.

Cougar point guard Ki'Ana Williams picked up her third foul and spent the remainder of the half on the bench. A four-point lead quickly fizzled and turned into a five-deficit as the Jaguars (15-8 overall) capitalized with a 12-3 run.

Victoria Williams drained a 3-pointer and all-tournament pick Akeyanna Whitlor dropped in a layup to make it 28-26. But Farmville scored 12 of the final 18 points to grab an eight-point lead at intermission.

"We had to shut (Ki'Ana) down," said Smith. "She's our momentum booster, she's our ball handler, starts and sparks everything for us on offense. When she went out of the game, it affected everything we did offensively and defensively.

"The whole game turned at that point."

Goldsboro dominated inside with twin towers Whitlor and Millicent Kornegay. Whitlor, who garnered all-tournament recognition, missed a double-double by one rebound with a game-high 28 points and nine boards. Kornegay contributed 15 points and 18 rebounds.

"We had the bigger inside game and I thought was going to work to our advantage tonight, and it did," said Smith. "But we weren't getting the stops that we needed defensively in the second half ... trading baskets. We probably played even with them."

The Cougars (18-8) tried to erase the deficit.

Whitlor's backdoor layup off Ki'Ana Williams' assist and Williams' layup with Smith defending closed the gap to 56-52. The Jaguars answered with a game-clinching 8-0 run that included baskets from Brown and Smith, who combined for 24 second-half points.

"It's hard to beat a good team three times when they're competitive," said Smith.

Goldsboro, which played for its first tournament title since 2005, opens the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs at home Tuesday. Game time is 7 p.m. against an undetermined opponent.