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GIRLS BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Cougars look to make up for early exit in EPC tournament

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SouthWest Edgecombe’s Jada Battle leaps up to grab the ball Saturday during the Nash County Christmas Tournament at the Rocky Mount Event Center.

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By PATRICK MASON
Sports Writer

Monday, February 25, 2019

As a 15-seed in the Class 2-A East bracket, the SouthWest Edgecombe girls’ basketball team has a tough road as it tries to make a deeper postseason run than its second-round exit a season ago.

The Cougars will host No. 18 Hertford County at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the first round of the playoffs. The winner will play either No. 2 Bertie or No. 21 West Bladen.

“We were really talking today and trying to emphasize the importance of working the ball around,” Cougars coach Sandra Langley said Monday. “No lazy passes and we have to cut turnovers down. We have to play aggressive.”

The Cougars had a sloppy first half in a semifinal game of the Eastern Plains Conference tournament last week, and despite a spirited second half that featured good shooting and less turnovers, couldn’t beat North Pitt.

Leading scorer Bailey Davis, who had been dealing with ankle issues this season, is healthy for the postseason, and guard Jada Battle, who scored 16 points in the loss, will be counted on heavily.

That crisp shooting will have to show up early against Hertford County, which boasts an aggressive defense, something Langley noticed when scouting the Bears. The two teams have several common opponents in Rocky Mount High, East Wake and Nash Central.

SWE went 3-1, while Hertford County went 1-4 in games against those common opponents. Hertford County lost all three matchups with RMH, including a 38-34 loss in overtime on Jan. 10. SWE also lost to the Gyrphons during their meeting in the Nash County Holiday Tournament.

“They have a good defense, an aggressive defense,” Langley said. “They played Rocky Mount and got beat in a close game. They are a really good defensive team and rely on two girls for their scoring.

“We will have to step up our game, and we can’t be complacent and we have to play together as a team and emphasize that and get our defense up, and we have to be aggressive as a team, we have to start out from the get-go.”

RMH girls welcome Harnett Central

In the 3-A East bracket, the No. 16 Gryphons will host No. 17 Harnett Central. The winner will likely face top-seeded Fayetteville Smith (26-1) in the second round. Smith hosts No. 32 Westover in the opener.

For RMH, which lost to Wilson Hunt in the Big East Conference tournament championship game after holding a halftime lead, the key to taking down Harnett Central (18-6) and moving onto the second round is to cut down on mistakes that sunk the conference tournament run.

Coach Pam Gainey said that practices have been geared toward making smart basketball decisions, while knowing opposing personnel on the court.

“We have to be smarter, we have to think the game,” Gainey said. “There’s some things we did that weren’t smart basketball plays. We had the lead and then we did some things that weren’t smart.”

Other girls game

As for Class 1-A, the No. 22 Tarboro Vikings travel to No. 11 Edenton Holmes, with the opening tip set for 6 p.m. Tuesday. An upset-minded Vikings team would face either No. 6 Weldon or No. 27 Falls Lake Academy. Tarboro potentially wouldn’t face a top-three seed until the third round.

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