EW girls stun Aycock
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 5, 2012 1:53 AM
Don't give up.
Avenge a loss.
Najah Muhammed drained the game-winning free throw with 2.5 seconds remaining, and Eastern Wayne shocked county rival Charles B. Aycock, 41-40, on Friday evening. The Warriors denied the Golden Falcons' bid to clinch the Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference regular-season championship outright.
Aycock (13-6 overall, 9-2 ECC) has earned a piece of the crown, but must beat Southern Wayne in its regular-season finale to earn the No. 1 seed for the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs. The teams meet Thursday in Dudley.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game, they are a strong team ... the returning (ECC) champions (who) have experience," said Warriors head coach Tyrone Wagner. "We didn't like the way we lost at Aycock, didn't like the way we played ... didn't hustle and wanted to put forth more of an effort this game.
"We really needed this win."
Facing a size disadvantage underneath the basket, Eastern Wayne (10-11, 6-4) employed a harassing man-to-man defense which disrupted Aycock's ability to create any offense in transition. The Warriors constantly hacked the Golden Falcons' guards once they crossed the midcourt stripe.
The scheme frustrated Aycock's backcourt tandem of Quanika Artis and Kayla Newsome who couldn't get post players Imari Howell and Ivy Hartzell into the flow of the offense. Howell eventually fouled out, while Hartzell played most of the second half saddled with four fouls.
The ball pressure also led to foul trouble for the Warriors, who had two guards to eventually join Wagner on the bench. The Golden Falcons took constant trips to the free throw line, but shot an atrocious 20 of 41 (49 percent) for the game.
The teams combined for 50 fouls and 65 free throw attempts.
"We let them frustrate us," said Aycock head coach Laura Romo. "Because it was physical, it got into our heads. We lost the game because we didn't play 32 minutes (but) about half a game, we did not move our feet and box out (on the boards), and we shot 20 of 41 from the free throw line.
"Plus, we gave up 17 points in the third quarter. We didn't deserve to win."
But the Golden Falcons nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback.
The Warriors built a double-digit, fourth-quarter advantage which dwindled to 35-34 on Howell's layup off Newsome's assist in transition.
Megan Mozingo's free throw and Muhammed's runner in the lane kept Eastern Wayne in front, 38-35. Hartzell scored on an offensive putback and got fouled moments later, but hit just 1 of 2 free throws to keep the score deadlocked at 40-all.
A once-quiet gym became a house of pandamonium.
With no timeouts, the Warriors grabbed Howell's miss and took off downcourt. Muhammed received the pass and drew a foul when she dribbled into a crowd of Golden Falcon defenders. She sank the first free throw, missed the second and time expired as Aycock grabbed the rebound.
Howell and Hartzell led Aycock with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Artis finished with nine points, while Newsome dished out four assists.
Tamiya Dortch scored 15 for the Warriors.
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