02/14/12 — Southern Wayne-N. Lenoir

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Southern Wayne-N. Lenoir

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 14, 2012 1:48 PM

DUDLEY -- Southern Wayne easily survived the "danger" game.

The Saints used a pair of first-half offensive surges to eliminate North Lenoir, 71-47, in opening-round play of the 2012 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference boys' basketball tournament Monday evening.

Chris Artis poured in a game-high 23 points for second-seeded Southern Wayne, which continues its tournament title defense at home Wednesday against South Johnston. Tip-off is 7 p.m. and admission is $6.

The seventh-seeded Hawks concluded the year 3-22 overall, but won three of their final seven games after an 0-18 start.

"Moving on," said fifth-year Saints head coach Russell Stephens said. "We had to attack the basket and get to the free throw line, and we did that early on. I thought we were really good getting the ball inside either to the post or with ball penetration. Our guards did a good job with that.

"That little zone that they run can be feisty at some times, but we were able to knock down a lot of shots in the middle of the lane and that opened us up for some outside shots."

Southern Wayne (18-6) seized momentum with a 13-0 run after North Lenoir knocked down the game's first field goal. Artis' 3-pointer started the spurt before the Hawks answered with five straight points, including Billy Summers' traditional three-point play.

The Saints led 17-11 after one period and each team hit an offensive lull midway through the second quarter. Leading 21-15, Jamiel Price converted two steals into layups and Ronnell Outlaw added a 3-pointer just before halftime to give Southern Wayne some breathing room, 28-15.

"In the second quarter, we couldn't get anything going for about a four-minute stretch, but we were holding them off on defense," said Stephens. "We had the shots we wanted, even at the free throw line, but they weren't falling. We were able to play through that, and come back in the second half to torch the nets."

Artis tallied 10 points in the third quarter and the lead slowly swelled in the Saints' favor. Outlaw finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Andrew Matthews and Quintae Bradshaw scored eight points apiece.

Summers and Braxton Davis each scored 14 points for North Lenoir.