Jaguars use third quarter run to put away North Edgecombe

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North Edgecombe's Erick Moss, left, is fouled by Rocky Mount Prep's Trevor Batchelor during the game Friday at Rocky Mount Prep.


Sports Writer

Friday, January 12, 2018

In need of a spark after blowing a 12-point halftime lead, Rocky Mount Prep got exactly what it was looking for with three minutes left in the third quarter.

On a missed Jaguars layup, 6-foot-5 Keyshawn Bryant soared in from the weak side, slamming the ball home for a 48-44 lead just a minute after North Edgecombe had tied the score at 44.

Indeed, it was a spark for the Jaguars, who were playing at home on Friday night. It was also a technical foul, the referee deciding that Bryant’s trip to the rim took one too many sways.

“I didn’t think I was up there for that long,” said Bryant, laughing.

Warriors guard Keyshawn Epps nailed the ensuing free-throws on the other end, but Rocky Mount Prep responded with a renewed energy, answering with an 8-1 run to end the third quarter, eventually finishing off North Edgecombe for a 77-66 conference victory.

RMP led comfortably at the half, 42-30, but a 14-2 run for the Warriors upped the tension. Coach Jolly Manning called a timeout at that point, with the game tied at 44. A few minutes later came Bryant’s dunk.

“I called a timeout, let them know who they were after (NE) tied the game,” Manning said. “They know how to respond every single time. We’ve been down before -- they know how to answer a run.”

The win extended a hot streak to start the season, putting RMP at 11-0 with a 4-0 conference record to start the season, while the Warriors fell to 5-4 and 2-1 in Tar-Roanoke play.

“We’ve still got a lot to work on, Xs and Os stuff, but this should be a special season. We’re looking to make a playoff run and a state championship run,” Manning said.

Bryant finished with 24 points, including a first half dunk on an out-of-bounds alley oop from teammate Kalil Baker, who scored a game-high 29 points, a tally helped by four three-pointers.

The Warriors were led by Keyshawn Epps, who finished with 26 points, including a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line. It was his play in the third quarter that got the Warriors back in the contest; he had 12 in that quarter alone, tying the game at 44 on an acrobatic layup plus a foul.

Marvin Tucker added 19 for the Warriors, but that spree to tie the game aside, North Edgecombe was unable to keep up with the firepower of the Jaguars, who had four different players score nine or more points.

“The way we play together, when we move the ball, nobody can really stop us on offense,” Bryant said. “We’re just excited for the rest of the season, to see how well we can do when we get to the tournament.”

Girls: Rocky Mount Prep 61, North Edgecombe 51

For North Edgecombe coach Marion King, the obvious problem this season has been the number of players on her roster.

The Warriors (1-5) have just seven girls on a team still looking to find its groove, something that becomes an even bigger problem when the foul call begin to mount.

That was the problem for NE on Friday, playing in Rocky Mount against Rocky Mount Prep. One player fouled out, one had four, another two had three fouls, leaving King with just six players for the fourth quarter, as the Jaguars ended up beating the Warriors behind a big second half, 61-51.

“Fatigue set in, I didn’t have fresh legs to put it,” King said. “I wouldn’t blame that on the players -- we just got out hustled in the third and fourth quarter, we played a good game in the first and second quarter.”

The Warriors trailed by just a point -- 23-22 -- to begin the second half, but RMP went on to win the third quarter by a 20-8 margin.

“We’ve got to learn to stop fouling,” King said. “We needed more bodies to put in. I haven’t had the luxury of a deep bench this season.

North Edgecombe was led by Geniya Dickens, who scored 18 of the Warriors’ 51 points. Shawndre Gunter added 13 points.

The Jaguars (5-3, 3-1) were paced by Angelic Dawson’s 21 points, and have now won two in a row after three straight losses sandwiched between three wins to start the year.

With a team of six freshman, there has been a learning curve, even for new coach Ron Cooper, who took over a game into the season.

“The girls have been great -- they’re listening to everything I say. They’re responding, they’re hungry for knowledge of the game,” said Cooper, who also helps out with the RMP boys’ team. “Right now, we’re maybe a little behind, but for the most part, we’re where we need to be.”