12/27/12 — Goldsboro dropped by Garner

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Goldsboro dropped by Garner

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 27, 2012 1:47 PM

RALEIGH -- Three minutes.

That's all Garner needed to separate itself from Goldsboro during opening-day action of the 47th annual HighSchoolOT.com Invititational on Wednesday afternoon.

The Trojans scored the game's first nine points, constantly harrassed the Cougars with pressure defense and rolled to a 71-42 victory at Holliday Gym on the Broughton High School campus. Garner, which won the American Airlines 4-team bracket in last year's Invitational, faces Greensboro Dudley in the title game today.

Goldsboro, which is making its sixth Invitational appearance, opposes Leesville Road in the third-place game today. The Cougars haven't won an Invitational game in 29 years.

"We ran into a buzzsaw tonight," Cougars head coach Russell Stephens said. "Garner is a good team. We had some turnovers in the backcourt that really cost us and they didn't let up from there. They might be the best team we'll face all year.

"It's a good experience for our guys, definitely an eye-opener that let's us see where we want to be."

Garner (8-1) got fouled on its first possession, made the free throws and set up in a 1-3-1 fullcourt press. The scheme produced three steals and fueled a 9-0 run barely three minutes into the contest.

The Cougars advanced past midcourt just once during that span and went four minutes without a field goal until Julius Murphy connected on an alley-oop pass with Joseph Baker. Garner led 24-11 after one period and reeled off seven straight points off its pressure defense to start the second.

Garner guard Julius Barnes drew a foul off a successful 3-point make, hit the free throw and Goldsboro never recovered.

"We got off to a bad start," Stephens said. "When we turn the ball over in the backcourt, it kind of downplays everything we try to do. When we don't get shots at the basket, it messes up your rebounding, your shooting and I don't think we got anything going until the second quarter."

By then, the Trojans held a comfortable 38-16 lead.

Goldsboro junior Lonzia Tyson battled inside against Garner's big, athletic post players and connected on a pair of offensive putbacks. Tyson concluded the day with 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots.

No other Cougar scored in double figures.

"A good effort for a kid who didn't play much last year, he's definitely coming into his own," Stephens said of Tyson. "We've definitely got to have that size for our conference and in the playoffs. He's a kid who is a work in progress, is going to get better every time he steps onto the court."

Stephens used that same phrase to describe Goldsboro overall.

The youthful Cougars have very little returning experience, have struggled at the guard postion all season and still have work to do in their defensive transition game. Garner produced nearly half of its offense off 19 Goldsboro turnovers and eight steals.