02/23/13 — Goldsboro defeats Rosewood for girls crown

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Goldsboro defeats Rosewood for girls crown

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 23, 2013 11:06 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The outcome remained in doubt for 31-plus minutes until Goldsboro found an open seam against Rosewood's pressure defense.

Freshman Tyona Moses fired a pass downcourt to a wide-open Brandy Johnson, who scored uncontested and gave the Cougars the breathing room they needed Friday evening inside Kornegay Arena.

One possession later, Johnson drained a free throw with 26.4 seconds left which sealed a 56-47 triumph over the Eagles and secured the Cougars' second consecutive Class 1-A Carolina Conference girls' basketball tournament championship.

Goldsboro, which will rejoin the Eastern Plains 2-A league next fall, finished a phenomenal 46-2 all-time in regular-season and tournament play combined against Carolina Conference opposition.

"I knew it was going to be a fight to the end," Cougars head coach LaTina Bullock said. "My girls played together as a team and knew the things that had to be done for us to come out on top. They just played hard tonight, they really did."

Moses paced the Cougars' offense with 20 points, while Destini Covington provided 15 off the bench. Amari Thompson contributed eight points, including six on offensive putbacks. Johnson scored five before she fouled out in the final seconds.

Rosewood freshman Lexi Mercer emerged the game's top scorer with 21 points. Teammates Alicia Burns and Holly Heath logged 11 points apiece for the Eagles, who dropped to 16-7 overall this season.

"We gave them a run," Eagles head coach Ryan Wells said. "The effort was there, the execution was there ... just two good teams where it came down to a couple of possessions we converted and a couple of possessions we didn't convert.

"It was a pretty game tonight, not out of control or wild."

Neither team could build a working margin during the opening half. Goldsboro had a five-point lead on two occasions, while Rosewood twice owned a brief one-point advantage.

The top-seeded Cougars led 29-26 at halftime and extended their advantage by one possession in the third quarter. Covington buried three crucial 3-pointers after the Eagles had shaved the deficit to one possession each time.

Covington didn't score the rest of the game.

"She can be such a threat at times," a smiling Bullock said. "Her contribution can be so great at times. Tonight she handled the ball for us, made a couple of key shots and made some great passes inside. That's what we need."

Mercer swished a 3-pointer to pull the Eagles to within 51-45 with about two minutes to go. She followed that play by drawing a charge underneath the Cougars' basket, and scored on Rosewood's next possession to make it 51-47.

Goldsboro (17-5 overall) didn't make it to midcourt on its next possession. Burns stole the ball from Lassiter, drove to the basket and drew a hard foul. However, she missed both free throw attempts, which snapped her streak of 14 consecutive made foul shots during tournament play.

Johnson's layup came after Burns' misses and the Cougars wrapped up the game at the free throw line. Bullock lauded her team's ability to dominate the boards and attack the basket, which led to an 8 of 14 effort at the stripe in the final period.