02/14/13 — Goldsboro basketball teams have enjoyed great success in Carolina 1-A

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Goldsboro basketball teams have enjoyed great success in Carolina 1-A

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 14, 2013 1:47 PM

Pull on any kind of athletic gear that says "Goldsboro" across the front, and you better get ready for a hard-nosed battle.

There's just something about the maize and blue that brings out the best in an opponent.

It brought out the best in the Cougars, too.

Since joining the Class 1-A Carolina Conference 31/2 years ago, Goldsboro High has emerged the king and queen on the basketball court. The girls have posted an astounding 39-0 record in regular-season play, while the boys have logged a 33-6 worksheet.

The two programs have combined to win seven regular-season championships with four different head coaches -- Patrick Reynell and Russell Stephens for the boys; Brandy Smith and LaTina Bullock for the girls.

"To know this has taken place, it feels really good to be part of it," Bullock said. "I believe it has a lot to do with the dedication and commitment from the girls. They trust in me to teach them and guide them, which is half of the battle right there.

"Because I have been able to gain their trust and help them achieve their individual goals and their team goals, that has attributed to the success as well."

Goldsboro's girls have captured a total of nine regular-season titles in Eastern Carolina 3-A, Eastern Plains 2-A and Carolina 1-A play combined since 2003. According to school banners hanging in Norvell T. Lee Gymnasium, the Cougars have 11 championships overall including Mideastern 4-A titles in 1980 and 1982.

Bullock never felt any pressure once she took over the program three years ago after serving as Smith's assistant. In fact, she embraced the challenge. The drive and determination she had as a player at Norfolk State has filtered down to her players.

They share her passion.

They share her desire.

And they've enjoyed the rewards.

"We don't call ourselves a team, but a family even though we go to different houses at the end of the night," Bullock said. "As coaches, we have to set examples and help build the girls' confidence, which was my goal from the beginning."

Last October, Stephens became the sixth boys' head coach in the program's past 12 seasons. The players' psychy was fragile and some had to wonder how long he would stay around.

Preseason practices turned physical as each player vied for starting time.

Goldsboro exited the New Year with a 5-6 ledger and had shown some grit in tough losses against talented teams. The effort improved, the practices became even harder and the players completely bought Stephens' philosophy.

"We were humbled by those teams early in the season and I liked the way we competed ... didn't quit," Stephens said. "When you compete every night to get better, this is the outcome of it. Did I foresee us playing this well? No, but I'm glad we're doing it."

The Cougars (16-6 overall) carry an 11-game win streak into their regular-season finale at Ayden-Grifton on Thursday.

"We know everybody is going to give Goldsboro their best shot," Stephens said. "Everybody wants to be the one to knock you off and the ACC has been proof of that (this season).

"Our kids have done a great job of being ready to play every team every quarter."

And take the opponent's best shot.