03/02/12 — Lakewood's final comeback stuns Goldsboro

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Lakewood's final comeback stuns Goldsboro

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 2, 2012 1:46 PM

FAYETTEVILLE -- Goldsboro just couldn't seal the deal.

Lakewood capitalized on a last-second turnover and claimed a stunning come-from-behind, 64-63 win during semifinal-round play of the 2012 N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A eastern regional girls' basketball tournament Thursday evening.

The Leopards (28-1 overall) oppose Chocowinity Southside (28-3) for the regional championship Saturday. Tip-off is 4 p.m. at the Crown Coliseum.

Fighting back tears and barely able to speak, Goldsboro head coach LaTina Bullock said No. 6-ranked Lakewood didn't do anything unexpected. But Bullock quickly added this wasn't the same Cougar team that had hung its hat on consistent play -- particularly defense and rebounding -- in the postseason.

"We didn't play to the best of our potential," said Bullock. "That's what affected us tonight. We didn't play like I know we can ... weren't ourselves on the court."

Lakewood's full-court pressure coaxed Goldsboro into a playoff-high 26 turnovers. Some miscues led to transition baskets, while others resulted in either second-chance opportunities or free throws.

The Cougars surrendered a total of 34 points in those three statistical categories and made their stellar 29 of 56 shooting (51.7 percent) performance from the floor a mute point.

"We beat ourselves," said Bullock.

Senior forward Alexus Myles poured in 10 of her game-high 20 points during a 15-0 first-quarter run by Goldsboro. Myles would eventually foul out with seven minutes left in the game.

Lakewood used different pressure tactics to harass the Cougars' guards into bad passes and responded with a 15-2 outburst of its own. Senior center Kasheika Wallace (14 points), Brandy Johnson and Jolan Williams each dropped in a bucket to put Goldsboro ahead 31-25 at halftime.

The Cougars established their second 13-point lead of the game early in the third quarter. But the Leopards' backcourt forced three consecutive turnovers, which led to a 7-0 run capped by Sasha Martin's buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the period.

The turnovers continued in the fourth quarter. The Leopards converted offensive putbacks, stopped the clock with free throw attempts and shaved yet another double-digit deficit to single digits in the final 79 seconds.

Williams' drive to the basket kept Goldsboro in front, 63-58, but it was the Cougars' last field goal of the game.

Lakewood closed with a 6-0 run on Bianca Moore's 3-pointer, Teisha Rich's free throw and then Rich's game-winning basket off Martin's assist -- off a turnover -- with 4.1 seconds to go. Rich finished with 13 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.