02/18/10 — Southern Wayne bests North Lenoir

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Southern Wayne bests North Lenoir

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 18, 2010 1:46 PM

DUDLEY -- For the second time this season, Southern Wayne got an unlikely scare on its home court from North Lenoir.

The Saints escaped each time.

Gary Woodard buried a pair of critical free throws in the final seconds and the Hawks' desperation 3-pointer clanged off the rim as time expired in the Saints' 64-61 victory in the semifinal round of the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference boys' basketball tournament on Wednesday night.

"Somehow we knew it was going to come down to the free throws in the final minutes," said Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. "North Lenoir has played us tough here before and tonight was more of the same."

In what was a tightly called and physical game from the outset, the Saints capitalized from the charity stripe. Southern Wayne connected on 32 of 48 attempts at the line.

None were bigger than Woodard's pair with seven seconds left. Clinging to a 62-61 advantage, the Saints called timeout to make sure that each player knew the situation. The ball was inbounded to Woodard, who split defenders and drew contact.

As Woodard's second shot fell through the net, North Lenoir coach Eric Waters shouted instructions for his team. With no timeouts remaining the Hawks raced into the front court and D.J. Artis launched a 3-pointer.

The ball sailed long, but the rebound came to Harris, who got an open look at a potential game-tying three only to see the shot rim out and the clock strike zero.

"That's one of those situations where you are going to fail more than you succeed," said Waters. "It was a good shot and I thought it was going in, but it just didn't fall tonight."

North Lenoir concluded the year 13-13 overall.

Justin Artis paced the Saints with 16 points. Bernard Gross added 11 markers and Rashaad Hill finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Southern Wayne (17-8) entertains county foe C.B. Aycock on Friday night for the conference tournament title. The teams split their regular-season meetings.

"This is what you play for, a chance to win the number one seed in the playoffs," said Stephens. "It's going to be a great game between to very strong teams."