02/20/10 — Golden Falcon boys seize ECC 3-A tournament championship

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Golden Falcon boys seize ECC 3-A tournament championship

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on February 20, 2010 11:06 PM

DUDLEY -- Consider the turnaround complete.

Southern Wayne missed a pair of free throws with six seconds left and Charles B. Aycock escaped with a 70-68 win in the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference boys' basketball tournament finals Friday evening.

It was the culmination of the resurrection project of a program that went winless just four seasons ago and won only three games the following year.

The Golden Falcons earned their 22nd victory of the season, matching the highest single-season win total in program history. With just three losses, Aycock is also assured of the best winning percentage of any team in school history.

The Golden Falcons (22-3 overall) earned the ECC's No. 1 seed in the N.C. High School Athletic Association sectional playoffs, and will play host to Nash Central on Monday evening.

The Saints (17-9) travel to Fike in their opening-round, sectional contest Monday evening.

"What a turnaround," said Aycock head coach David West. "When these guys were freshmen, none of them were on varsity, but we were 0-25. Now that they're seniors, look at what they've done. That just shows that they're not going to quit and they're going to work so hard.

"I'm under the school of thought that you earn what you get. Tonight, and the past three years, these guys have worked hard and tonight it culminates."

The Golden Falcons held a 70-66 lead with 15 seconds to play before Justin Artis was fouled shooting a 3-pointer on the Saints' next possession. Artis made the first two free throws and teammate Rashaad Hill corralled the rebound as Artis missed the final foul shot.

Hill was fouled with six seconds left, but missed both free throws. Khari Faison grabbed the rebound on Hill's second free throw and his jump shot was off the mark as time expired.

"We had several opportunities there," said Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. "We did what we needed to do. Justin drew the foul. You can't write the script any better than that. It came down to free throws and layups.

"Just like we hit the shot down at their place (to win), we didn't hit it tonight and that's what it really boiled down to."

Both backcourts dominated the second meeting between the two teams in eight days. Artis led all scorers with a game-high 29 points and Gary Woodard provided seven points.

"I think the best guards in the conference went head-to-head tonight," said Stephens. "You take Woody and Tyheim Pitt and Justin and Isaac going blow for blow, and I thought all four of those kids had a marvelous game and there was really no one side to it. All four players kept their team in the game."

Aycock's trio of guards -- Isaac Ryals, Terrance Drakeford and Pitt -- combined to score 51 of the Golden Falcons' 70 points. Ryals finished with 21 points, while Drakeford and Pitt added 19 and 11, respectively. Forward Brandon Winford chipped in 15 points and 11 rebounds.

"Isaac came out real hungry tonight," said West. "Terrance, he has such a nice shot. It's a left-handed shot and it's so hard to defend. He wasn't just shooting from one place on the floor he was shooting from everywhere. He was on tonight."