Aycock earns berth in ECC 3-A finals
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 17, 2012 1:48 PM
PIKEVILLE -- A sluggish start.
A decent finish.
Another crack at a county rival.
Charles B. Aycock shrugged off the rust from a seven-day break and dumped South Johnston, 48-36, in semifinal-round play of the 2012 Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference girls' basketball tournament Thursday evening.
The top-seeded Golden Falcons (14-6 overall) face second-seeded Eastern Wayne in the championship game today at Triton High School. Tip-off is 6 p.m. The teams split their regular-season series.
"I thought we were slow in the first half," said CBA head coach Laura Romo. "This was, for us, our first game in the tournament and that first half we just weren't aggressive and weren't playing hard. It took us a while to say 'OK, let's go'."
The teams combined for three field goals in the first 51/2 minutes until fifth-seeded South Johnston (9-13) reeled off five consecutive points to grab a 7-6 advantage after one period. Morgan Gatlin buried one of her two 3-pointers and Whitney Williams scored on an offensive putback.
The second quarter featured five ties, the last at 17-17 when Williams aggravated a stress fracture injury. She exited with three minutes remaining before halftime and did not return.
The Trojans' missed Williams' physical presence and went cold offensively for the next 10 minutes.
"Whitney is pretty much the glue that holds them together," said South Johnston head coach Ronda Langdon. "As long as she's on the court, even if she's not playing well, everybody just plays better. I knew when she stopped, she couldn't go because she's been playing on it for six weeks.
"We're so small without her in there and we don't have the experience underneath the basket without her."
Aycock capitalized on the absence, forced South Johnston to become a perimeter team and blew open the game with a 17-0 run. Imari Howell pumped in 12 of her game-high 15 points during that stretch, while frontcourt mate Ivy Hartzell constantly wiped the glass clean on both ends of the floor.
Hartzell logged a double-double -- 13 points, 13 rebounds.
Tyecha Newsome's two free throws and Hartzell's offensive putback gave the Golden Falcons their biggest lead, 44-28, early in the fourth quarter. The Trojans scrapped for every loose ball and closed the gap to 46-36, but could get no closer.
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