01/01/18 — Basketball --Goldsboro turns back Coastal Christian, claims FCA title

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Basketball --Goldsboro turns back Coastal Christian, claims FCA title

By Justin Hayes
Published in Sports on January 1, 2018 5:53 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Senior forward Tyzhuan Claude poured in a game-high 24 points on Saturday night as Goldsboro High overcame a sluggish start to register a 70-65 triumph over Coastal Christian and capture the fifth annual FCA Winter Classic at Kornegay Arena.

The victory marked a successful defense of the school's title run a year ago, and moved GHS to 10-0 on the season.

But it wasn't easy.

Playing its third game in as many nights, the Cougars appeared sluggish at the outset, allowing Coastal clean looks from beyond the arc and an 18-14 advantage after the opening stanza.

Goldsboro tightened its defensive screws, however, exchanging its matchup zone for a mixed bag of pressure -- creating a steady stream of turnovers and transition points in the process.

"They are really quick at the guard spot, and do a lot of penetrating," GHS head coach Russell Stephens said post-game. "We kind of doubled up the middle and challenged them to shoot from the wing... and they hit some, but we wanted to try and take their strength away... I felt our guys did a good job of sticking to the game plan."

Indeed so.

Over a 12-minute span that started in the second quarter and lasted until the 3:37 mark of the third period, Goldsboro's identity-changing swarm limited Coastal Christian to just five made baskets.

Matters tightened to begin the fourth quarter, however, as the Centurions made two consecutive bombs from distance, only to have Goldsboro counter with Claude -- who controlled the interior on both ends and propelled the Cougars into the double-bonus with 4:31 remaining in the contest.

From there, GHS made winning plays with the rock, controlling pace and space with the dribble and scoring with fluidity in the lane.

Its down-the-stretch display of fundamental basketball was punctuated by -- guess who -- Claude, who stepped to the stripe and ripped cord on a pair of free throws with 8.1 seconds remaining.

As the old saying goes, done and done.

"As a whole, (the event) it gave us a lot of good looks," Stephens said of the three-day extravaganza. "We played a bunch of different styles, and it also let us see ourselves in the mirror... it's just going to make us better.

Coastal Christian (12-4), a balanced outfit out of the NCISAA Coastal Rivers league, was led by first team All-Tournament selection Kamron Greene, who scored 17 points. Senior forward Michael Parker, who also garnered first team accolades, finished with 16 points.

Claude, who averaged 26 points per game during the tournament for GHS, was named the event's Most Valuable Player. Junior forward Isaiah Wilder -- who carried the Cougars early in Saturday's marquee matchup en route to 14 points -- was also tabbed a first team selection. 

And while Goldsboro may very well like time to celebrate its most recent accomplishment, there is simply no rest for the weary. It is slated to play a trio of East Central 2A league tilts in the next five days -- beginning with a road trip to East Duplin on Tuesday.