02/12/10 — North Lenoir boys stay in playoff chase

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North Lenoir boys stay in playoff chase

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 12, 2010 12:05 PM

LaGRANGE -- Surging North Lenoir turned up the defensive intensity, forced crucial turnovers and kept its slim postseason aspirations alive Thursday evening.

Trey Harris and Maurice Morgan dominated the glass in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Hawks turned back Eastern Wayne 71-61 at Wooten Gymnasium. It was the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season finale for both teams.

North Lenoir (13-11 overall, 4-6 ECC) finished tied with Triton for fourth place in the league standings. The two meet in opening-round tournament play next week with the victor advancing to the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Playoff-bound Eastern Wayne (10-10, 5-5) is the No. 3 seed for the ECC tournament and faces South Johnston in first-round action.

"That was a crucial game in a big-time atmosphere, and a great effort on both sides," said North Lenoir coach Eric Waters. "We've been up and down some through the course of the year. We play well in the first half and fizzle toward the end.

"Here lately, going back to the Southern Wayne game, we came on big in the fourth quarter."

Big ... indeed.

The Warriors used a 9-0 run to grab an eight-point lead after three quarters. The Hawks increased their defensive intensity and created numerous turnovers, which slowly turned the momentum in their favor.

Harris' two free throws gave North Lenoir its first lead, 56-55, with 1:12 to go in regulation. Marvin Bowman Jr. answered with a layup off Lamar Best's assist to put Eastern Wayne back in front 57-56.

The Hawks tied the game at 57-57 and could have sealed the outcome in regulation, but Morgan clanged two free throws off the iron with 2.3 on the clock.

North Lenoir opened the overtime with a 6-0 run and extended its lead as Eastern Wayne struggled to convert open looks at the basket. The Warriors also committed a combined 10 turnovers in the fourth quarter and four-minute OT.

"We kept playing and didn't try to take the air out of the ball," said Eastern Wayne head coach Marvin Bowman. "I really think they turned the defensive intensity up a little bit. (Turnovers) didn't help and the overtime, we just couldn't weather the storm."

Bowman Jr. led four Warriors in double figures with 15 points. Robert Washington scored 12, while Will White knocked down 11. Best ended the contest with 10 points and seven assists.

Harris poured in 25 points for the Hawks, who have won three of their last four contests. Morgan and Da'Rico Jones provided 12 and 11 points, respectively.