Princeton - Chatham Central boys
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 21, 2012 1:48 PM
PRINCETON -- The sleep-walking had to stop.
So Princeton abandoned its "junk" defense and pulled out a little-used strategy that paid dividends Monday evening.
The Bulldawgs' man-to-man scheme forced a few turnovers which helped speed up the tempo and spearhead a come-from-behind, 68-63 victory over Chatham Central in opening-round action of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A boys' basketball playoffs.
Princeton, the No. 5 seed in the Mideast region, entertains wild-card entrant and state-ranked Rocky Mount Prep on Wednesday. The Jaguars emerged victorious in both regular-season meetings. Tip-off is 7 p.m.
Chatham Central, the No. 12 seed from the Yadkin Valley Conference, played a deliberate-style offense against the Dawgs in the first 11-plus minutes of the game. The Dawgs used a triangle-and-two plan to keep sharp-shooting guard Zack Burke from warming up behind the 3-point arc.
But Princeton slept-walk during that stretch.
The Bears (13-13 overall) got offensive production from Josh Edwards, LaQuinn Mordecai and Jackson Goodwin, who combined for 14 first-quarter points. Burke scored five second-quarter points as Chatham Central built a 23-13 advantage with 5:13 left before halftime.
"Burke for them is a really good player. We did a good job of stopping him and they still scored," Princeton head coach Jeff Davis. "I didn't want to play man because it's harder to guard 10 (Burke) and with that triangle-and-two, you can stop one guy.
"We were just asleep on offense and that (man defense) kind of woke us up offensively."
Goodwin's 3-pointer off Burke's assist capped the Bears' 9-2 run and Princeton answered with one of its own which also woke a slumbering partisan crowd. Brad Williamson's 3-pointer, his only field goal of the game, ignited a half-ending 20-9 run.
Jeffreys' layup off Dalvin Stancil's steal and assist gave the Dawgs a 28-27 lead. Chatham moved back in front 30-27, but consecutive offensive rebounds from Nick Cobb helped Princeton take a 33-32 advantage at intermission.
"CJ has shot the ball so well this year from the 3-line, it's like 44 percent or something crazy and we feel like he's going to hit one sooner or later," said Davis. "The first half, we weren't attacking the gaps, weren't being patient enough offensively. Luckily when we went man, we got some transition points."
Princeton (15-12) kept a three-possession margin for much of the third quarter. The Bears pulled to within 51-48 early in the fourth on baskets from senior Connor Fewell and Burke.
Rusty Wallace's short jumper from the elbow and Simpkins' 3-pointer off Stancil's assist gave the Dawgs breathing room at 56-48. Stancil finished with a double-double -- 10 points, 10 assists. Jeffreys added 16 points, while AJ Smith contributed 14.