Edge goes to Nash Central against Cougars

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Nash Central’s My'ka Hedgepeth, left, attmepts to guard SouthWest Edgecombe’s Jada Battle Tuesday at Nash Central.


Sports Writer

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

With 1.5 seconds left, trailing by a point on the road against Nash Central, SouthWest Edgecombe coach Shelton Langley drew up a play. He had his best passer, Savion Staton, lob a pass toward the basket from near half court to one of his more athletic players, Jeshon Smith.

The pass connected, with Smith seemingly having an open lane to the hoop for a win, but feet got tangled, and Smith, as he was falling, threw up a desperate shot at the buzzer. It missed wide right, and Nash Central (10-7, 3-1) escaped at home with a one-point, 48-47 victory.

“I told my guys, that’s a play that’s bang-bang. I’d hate to have that decide the game, so the refs let them play,” said Langley. “He caught it and threw it at the rim -- that’s what you want to do. In a perfect world, my best finisher is probably Savion, but he can’t lob it to himself. But Jeshon looked confident. It just didn’t quite work out.”

It was a fitting final play in a razor-tight game, with the Bulldogs and Cougars (4-11, 0-6) exchanging and coughing up the lead for much of the final quarter. Each time a team was able to create some separation, the other countered.

Nash Central led by two after the first quarter; SouthWest Edgecombe led by four at half; after three quarters, the Cougars again led by a single point.

The game was tied at 38 points with six minutes left, when Avante Simmons quickly made a layup, then a three-pointer to give the Bulldogs a five-point lead. SouthWest Edgecombe, of course, fought back again, finishing the slow-paced final minutes on a 9-4 run, just a single point short.

Simmons, who came off the bench, finished with 12 points in the absence of starting point guard AJ Styles, and Tim Bridges led the Bulldogs with 17, including five made three-pointers.

“Just wanted to come in and do the things I needed to do, that’s how I look at my role,” Simmons said. “I know if I can be a spark it helps my teammates.”

The Bulldogs held a 46-45 advantage with two minutes left, and killed a minute of clock in one possession. The Cougars eventually fouled, getting the ball back down by two with 45 seconds left after a split one-and-one for the Bulldogs.

Smith tied the game on a layup twenty seconds later, but the Cougars mistakenly fouled on the next NC possession.

That sent Ta’Rod Brown to the line. He made one of two, leading to the doomed inbounds play by the Cougars with 1.5 seconds left.

SWE was led by 17 from Staton, including eight in the second quarter. Smith added 11 points.

“If we had just nailed four free throws in a row, we wouldn’t have ever been in that situation,” NC coach Renny Taylor said. “And let me tell you, we did every free throw drill known to man. I guess I should be happy that we made the front end of the one-and-one, that’s a positive.”

Girls: Nash Central 42, SW Edgecombe 37

Nash Central girls’ basketball, playing at home against SouthWest Edgecombe, fell behind the Cougars early, 9-2, but settled in to eventually down SouthWest Edgecombe, 42-37.

Starting with a basket to tie the game early in the second quarter by Zhaterrica Cherry, the Bulldogs (10-7, 3-1) mounted a convincing 16-2 run to take control of the game.

“We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but we don’t quit. I’ve got a team that I really believe can fight,” Nash Central coach Terri Cash said. “I try to teach them that basketball is a game of spurts, and I think they’re bought into that. I was pleased with how they responded.”

The scoring was balanced for the Bulldogs, who were led by eight points from Robbi Allen, but had eight players score at least a basket.

“That’s one thing we’ve been trying to preach. One player can’t have 25 and everyone else have zero,” Cash said. “Everyone having four points is better than one person dominating the ball.”

The Cougars (10-6, 3-3) finished both the half and the third quarter trailing by nine points, getting the score down to as little as seven but never getting closer.

They were down by 16 points midway through the third quarter, when Bailey Davis hit three straight three-pointers to cut the lead. But the Bulldogs answered back with four straight points to steal back the momentum.

Davis finished with a game-high 14 points and Alonee Smallwood added eight points, including six in the first quarter, but a total of 29 turnovers proved too much to overcome.

“We are young, we’re going to make some mistakes, but I told my girls, ‘That was way too many turnovers tonight.’ I wasn’t real happy with our defensive effort in the first half. Second half was better, but I think we waited until we got done,” SWE coach Sandra Langley said. “We were down nine points at half, and we got down even further before we starting playing again.”