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SouthWest Edgecombe girls win tournament title; boys place second

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Southwest Edgecombe's Putt Gardner goes up for a lay up on Friday night at the Edgecombe County Holiday Classic Championship game at Southwest Edgecombe High School.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Saturday, December 31, 2016

PINETOPS – A thunderous alley-oop dunk from Greene Central within the first 20 seconds of Friday’s game against the SouthWest Edgecombe boys basketball team was just the start of a flurry of rim assaults by the Rams.

“I’ve never seen a team like that,” SouthWest Edgecombe guard Putt Gardner said.

But the Cougars, playing in the championship game of their own tournament, didn’t blink. They had an answer to the Rams’ athleticism, and they shouted it from behind the 3-point arc. The Cougars could keep up if they rained 3s, and that’s what they did.

SouthWest Edgecombe pushed undefeated Greene Central to the brink, and even held a late lead, but couldn’t hang on in a 66-60 loss in the title game of the Edgecome County Christmas Tournament.

“It was fun,” Gardner said. “That was one of the most fun games I’ve been a part of. They were talented, and we hung with them.”

Greene Central (11-0) had its way with the tournament field, punishing teams with a dominant presence in the paint. But the Rams didn’t enjoy those freedoms for long against a Cougars team that dished it right back. The Rams opened up a 22-16 lead after the first quarter by taking advantage of some missed assignments and fast breaks. Part of it was the Cougars needing time to adjust to the speed of the Rams’ game, as they scored 10 points off dunks in the quarter and ran the floor with a purpose.

The game opened with elements of an all-star game mixed with a dunk contest. Then the Cougars settled in and stopped allowing easy points.

“They saw what we do and did a good job stopping it,” said Rams sophomore Imajae Dodd, who had a team-high 17 points. “We realized we had to take our time on offense, move the ball around, and pick our spots. They slowed us a little.”

The Cougars kept the score close early with a few 3s, then outscored the Rams in the second and third quarters. They key was to stay away from Dodd, the tournament MVP. Dodd scored at least four points in every quarter, and was a blocking machine on defense. He ushered the Cougars (2-5) away from the basket with seven blocks and a few more steals. But that didn’t bother SouthWest Edgecombe as it was comfortable shooting its way past the Rams.

The Cougars made 12 3-pointers, including five from Demarquis Howard and four more from Quentin Porcher.

“When my teammates get me the ball, I’m comfortable shooting that shot,” said Howard, who led all scorers with 20 points. “It took a lot out of us to stay with those guys. This is something we can build on.”

The Cougars gained their first lead of the game with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter at 38-37. They chipped away at the Rams lead, and played their game.

“We didn’t worry about that,” Gardner said of the crowd-pleasing dunks by the Rams. “We played our game, and stuck with it.”

The Rams made only six shots from outside the paint, and finished with five players in double figures.

“We try to impress the crowd a bit,” Dodd said. “If we can get them on our side and waiting for that next exciting play, then we can use that for our own energy.”

Tre Williams had nine points for SouthWest Edgecombe, all coming on 3s, and helped grab that slim lead, but Greene Central took the lead back with 15 seconds to play in the third quarter and never trailed again.

GIRLS

SW Edgecombe 73

Tarboro 42

SouthWest Edgecombe girls basketball coach Sandra Langley raved about how the guards on her team have the ability to take over games. That belief was only reinforced against Tarboro High during Friday’s championship game of the Edgecombe County Christmas Tournament.

Point guard Teliyah Owens and shooting guard Shayla Ellis each scored 16 points for the Cougars in the win, and powered a dominant effort that all but put away the game in the first half.

“We have the best pair of guards around,” Langley said.

Owens, who plays like a traditional point guard, made a couple 3-point shots, added three assists, and dazzled with the ball in her hands. She dribbled through traffic and made tough shots, while other times finding a teammate wide open after sucking in defenders. Ellis, meanwhile, earned tournament MVP honors by her work in the paint. She finished with five blocks and 11 rebounds, and was a big reason why Tarboro couldn’t get its offense going in the first half.

By the time the first half ended, the Cougars led 30-12.

“When I was younger I was pretty small,” Ellis said. “So I had to work on my shooting. I couldn’t stay under the basket for long. Now, I love being in the paint. I worked hard on my box-outs and defense because that what this team needs me to do.”

Eight players scored points for SouthWest Edgecombe, with Jasmine Ellis scoring 13 to put three players in double figures.

The Vikings didn’t get going until the second half. Iyana Barnes and Ne’Tonya Boddie led a second-half charge that cut into the Cougars’ big lead. Both finished with 13 points, with eight of Barnes’ and 10 of Boddie’s points coming in the second half.

But the comeback attempt fell short, as the Cougars kept pace. During a stretch in the fourth quarter, the Cougars’ Bailey Davis hit three consecutive mid-range jumpers, then Owens drained a 3 from a few feet behind the arc that deflated the Vikings.

“When we play like that,” Langley said, “we’re hard to beat.”

Patrick Mason can be reached at 407-9952 or pmason@rmtelegram.com

BOYS

Greene Central 66

SouthWest Edgecombe 60

GC 22 9 16 19 – 66

SWE 16 11 18 15 – 60

GC: DonQuez Davis 10; Torrence Clark 13; Don Pigford 14; Imajae Dodd 17; Donte Johnson 10; Alvin Vines 2.

SWE: Quentin Porcher 12; Demarquis Howard 20; Willie Jackson 4; Savion Staton 4; Putt Gardner 7; Tre Williams 9; Montavious Andrews 4.

GIRLS

SouthWest Edgecombe 73

Tarboro High 42

T 5 7 18 12 – 42

SWE 13 17 19 24 – 73

T: Iyana Barnes 13; LaTonya Jones 3; Aynia Glass 2; Ne’Tonya Boddie 13; Keniyah Pettaway 1; Anad Jones 2; MacKenzie Johnson 4; Kiana Sherrod 2; Jimeria Webb 2.

SWE: Bailey Davis 9; Teliyah Owens 16; Shayla Ellis 16; Jasmine Ellis 13; Tia Farmer 8; Callsa Barnes 2; Adezjhia Lewis 4; Kenniece Williams 5.


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