12/10/11 — Eastern Wayne boys beat South Johnston

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Eastern Wayne boys beat South Johnston

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on December 10, 2011 11:23 PM

Eastern Wayne has been learning how to close out ballgames early on this season.

The Warriors took a step in the right direction on Friday night. South Johnston refused to go away but Eastern Wayne converted on key possessions late in a 79-74 victory in New Hope.

It was the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference opener for both teams.

The Trojans pressured Warriors' guard Lee Atkinson early on, making it difficult for the sharp shooting junior to find open space. Atkinson was held to five points in the opening quarter but had help from his supporting cast as Eastern Wayne built a 20-9 lead after eight minutes.

Tyrick Kornegay scored 12 first-half points and Josiah Davis added 10 points in the first two quarters as the Warriors led by as much as 13.

Atkinson continued to work relentlessly without the ball and began to warm up after draining a 3-pointer in the third quarter. When room to shoot wasn't available Atkinson penetrated and dished off to open teammates. He scored 20 of his game-high 29 points in the second half.

"Early on, I could tell they were going to make it hard for me to get open," Atkinson said. "In the end, I just started finding ways to get open. My teammates kept feeding me and I was just able to make plays. I just made one shot and I just kept making them. I have to work a lot harder now to get open but when teams crowd me it doesn't really bother me."

Javonte Burns' layup pulled South Johnston to within 59-52 at the end of the third quarter. The lead shrunk to 66-62 midway through the fourth quarter on Michael Booker's layup.

Eastern Wayne sank 10 of 15 free throws in the final 3 1/2 minutes and got critical defensive stops down stretch. Atkinson was 9 for 11 from the free line in the final quarter.

"We've been talking about it and we're trying to get to that point where we're closing out ballgames," Warriors' head coach Marvin Bowman said. "We've had a couple of experiences this season where we've had to deal with that and I think that helped us. Lee and Tyrick hit some big shots and they came to play tonight. This win lets us know we're going to having to play game in and game out and what this conference is all about."

Kornegay contributed 17 points and Davis finished with 14 points. Derek Brewington led the Trojans with 21 points.

Eastern Wayne (2-4, 1-0 ECC) entertains Cleveland on Tuesday.