Goldsboro returns to regional
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 1, 2012 1:48 PM
FAYETTEVILLE -- Goldsboro High's trio of seniors haven't forgotten last year's stinging, season-ending loss to Southwest Onslow in the eastern regional championship game.
It's been their motivation for this season.
They're one step away from reaching that point again.
The No. 6-ranked Cougars (24-2 overall) face No. 5-ranked Lakewood today in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A eastern semifinals at the Crown Coliseum. Tip-off is 8:30 p.m.
Southeast Halifax opposes Southside in the other semifinal.
The winners meet Saturday at 4 p.m. to determine the eastern representative in the NCHSAA state championship game March 10 at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill. Goldsboro hasn't advanced to the state final since 1982 when it competed in the old Mideastern 4-A Conference.
"(Last year) the girls were disappointed and a little discouraged, but I tried to encourage them and let them know they had another year, especially our seniors," said second-year GHS head coach LaTina Bullock. "We have the same combination of young ladies, and the hard work and dedication that they had put forward (last year), they knew it was going to take a little bit more effort ... a little more of a push and they did it.
Seniors Kasheika Wallace, Shatoria Exum and Alexus Myles helped the Cougars sweep the Carolina 1-A Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
A 6-foot forward, Wallace is averaging a double-double -- 11 points, 10 rebounds. Exum provides 10 points a game and has emerged as the team's quiet assassin on the perimeter. Myles contributes a team-leading 12 points and grabs seven boards an outing.
They've been instrumental during Goldsboro's 16-game win streak that started after a 20-point road loss at county rival Charles B. Aycock early last December.
"Kasheika has grown so much over the past two years, has made some tremendous strides and I don't think she thought she could be as capable (of a player) as she is now," said Bullock. "Alexus is very athletic. Her talent is there and she is one of those athletes who you know is going to give everything that she has (every game).
"Shatoria is a quiet young lady. She is one of those players you have to watch out for because she has pulled through for us in crunch times, and her shooting has gotten better from last year. She's a little more confident than last year."
Junior guards Brandy Johnson and Talaya Lassiter knock down 10 points apiece a game for the Cougars. Lassiter notches four rebounds and dishes out four assists per game, while Johnson has become a sparkplug on defense in the postseason.
Goldsboro is 7-9 all-time in regional play since the NCHSAA adopted the format in 1981. The Cougars are making back-to-back appearances for the first time since the Gladys McClary era when Morehead Scholar Ashelyn James played center.
Seven Carolina Conference teams have emerged the eastern regional champion, starting with the Eastern N.C. School for the Deaf in 1983. Ironically, Lakewood's lone regional crown occurred in 1994 when it was a member of the Carolina Conference.
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