01/26/10 — OPINION: Caolina 1-A too close to call

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OPINION: Caolina 1-A too close to call

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 26, 2010 1:46 PM

Exhilarating comebacks, game-winning shots at the buzzer and heartbreaking losses have made the first two weeks of play in Carolina 1-A Conference boys' basketball action a cardiologist's nightmare.

Of 24 conference games played heading into tonight, 10 have been decided by 10 points or less. Four of those 10 games have been won by five points or fewer.

Many casual followers of the conference had all but handed newcomer Goldsboro the Carolina 1-A championship the day the Cougars joined the league. The Cougars (10-6 overall, 4-0 CC) lead the conference by just a game over Princeton and Ayden-Grifton.

Goldsboro needed second-half rallies to knock off both Princeton and Spring Creek inside Norvell T. Lee Gymnasium. The Cougars erased a 10-point halftime deficit against the Bulldogs and came from five points down with a minute to play against the Gators.

Goldsboro visits Ayden-Grifton tonight.

"I think that everyone wants to beat us," said first-year Cougars head coach Patrick Reynell. "Every single team in this league is capable. A team that comes in and meshes well and executes can beat you. We respect everyone in this conference and we know if we come out flat and don't play defense we can get beat."

Princeton has displayed an ability to compete with every team in the league and picked up a convincing 79-61 win at Ayden-Grifton on Friday night. The Bulldogs (3-1 CC) played well at Goldsboro and North Duplin, and earned a home win over a scrappy Spring Creek club.

Princeton head coach Jeff Davis has reaped the benefits of having one his deepest teams in recent years. Point guard David Gurganus is averaging 12 points and five assists, while forward Andre Nixon contributes 11 points and seven rebounds a game. Five other Bulldogs average six points a game.

At 2-2 in conference play, Rosewood sits just two games off the pace. The Eagles came from 11 points down at the half on Friday night to win at North Duplin. Jacquez Raynor's half-court shot at the buzzer lifted Rosewood to a 47-44 victory.

The Eagles made key free throws late and survived a last-second shot attempt to survive Spring Creek 52-51.

The Gators have lost their first four conference contests by an average of six points. Four of Spring Creek's nine losses this season have been by less than 10 points. Defeats against Goldsboro and Rosewood were decided in the final moments.

Despite having not won a game in more than two calendar years, North Duplin has had good showings in its last two conference games against Princeton and Rosewood. Only time will if the Rebels will eventually get in the win column.

Balanced, competitive and worth-your-money exciting, the Carolina 1-A was once believed to be a foregone conclusion. It's now an instant classic waiting to happen on any given night.