N. Lenoir's McPhail guns down Cougars
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 22, 2009 2:00 AM
Chris McPhail kept shooting.
And that was bad news for Goldsboro.
Benched with three first-half fouls, McPhail displayed an impressive third-quarter offensive performance Friday evening. The senior shooting guard buried six 3-pointers -- including five in a row -- as North Lenoir stopped Goldsboro 74-63 in the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference boys' tournament championship game. It was the Hawks' second straight victory on the Cougars' homecourt in eight days.
McPhail finished with 24 points -- all in the second half -- and earned Most Valuable Player honors. He was joined on the seven-man, all-tournament by teammates Juel Bizzell (20 points) and Marquez Powell.
"At halftime, I felt like I had let my team down getting three fouls early in the first half," said McPhail. "I just wanted to come out in the second half and make a difference ... have an impact on this game."
Impact ... indeed.
North Lenoir (19-7 overall) connected on 3-pointers on seven of their first nine possessions in the third quarter. A slim, one-point deficit quickly turned into a 53-41 advantage at the two-minute mark.
"We were very lucky to be down by one point after the first half," said Hawks head coach Eric Waters. "We told them to come out in the second half and do the things we asked them to do, and everything will take care of itself.
"McPhail ... what can you say?"
Top-seeded Goldsboro (18-8) pulled within 53-48 on baskets from all-tournament selection Tyrelle Jackson (26 points, 10 rebounds) and Demetrio Irby. McPhail drained his sixth 3-pointer off L.J. Whitfield's assist to give North Lenoir a 58-50 lead after three quarters.
McPhail opened the final period with a 3-pointer from Whitfield and assisted Bizzell on a 3-pointer to make it 64-56.
"We didn't bump out to him (McPhail) and when we did contest, he was already on a roll," said Goldsboro head coach Chris Cherry. "The worst thing you can do is give a shooter a couple of open shots and then the basket becomes real big to them."
Jackson's offensive putback trimmed the deficit to a two-possession game. Irby blocked a layup attempt by Powell to keep Goldsboro within striking distance. Jackson and Irby each knocked down a free throw, which closed the gap to 64-60.
Bizzell and Whitfield pushed the Hawks back in front 68-60.
The Cougars couldn't recover. Cherry's team misfired on nine of its final 10 possessions as Goldsboro faltered in the EPC tournament final for the second consecutive season.
"We stopped making baskets," said Cherry. "You've got to be able to score when you're down. We didn't get into the gaps of the zone, just stood there and decided we were going to pass it around.
"You can't attack zones like that. You have to attack and get it to the next man."
Goldsboro entertains Winston-Salem Atkins in an opening-round, N.C. High School Athletic Association playoff game Monday. Tip-off is 7 p.m. at Cougar Gymnasium.
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