Ayden-Grifton boys, North Lenoir girls win Friday
AYDEN | Ayden-Grifton and North Lenoir both came into Friday’s Eastern Carolina 2A Conference contest starved for a victory. In the end it was the Chargers who feasted at the winning table.
Led by senior Jordan Atkinson, who scored 21 points to eclipse the 1,000-point mark for his career, A-G erased an early nine-point deficit and held off the Hawks 80-72 to move into a second-place tie with West Craven in the league standings.
“We challenged our kids to get better after losing to North Lenoir (Pitt County Christmas Tournament) and then to Kinston in our first game back from the holiday,” Chargers coach John Moye said. “We didn’t check all the boxes tonight, but we definitely checked the heart box. We played with as much heart as we have all season.”
North Lenoir (6-8, 1-3) raced to an early 13-4 lead and led 19-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Consecutive buckets by James Richardson put the Chargers on top 26-23 with 5:08 left in the second quarter, and A-G (6-7, 3-1) never trailed again.
“They (North Lenoir) hit us in the mouth early just like that in the Christmas tournament,” Moye said. “The difference is that we folded up in December. Tonight, we didn’t back down, battled back, and showed some real grit every time they made a run.”
Nathaniel Harris scored 13 of his 19 points as A-G clung to a 41-40 halftime lead.
Held to just 5 first-half points, Atkinson came our firing in the third quarter. He drilled a pair of 3-pointers and scored 8 points in the frame as the Chargers built a 9-point advantage, 63-54.
“In the second and third quarters we stopped doing everything that made us successful at the start of the game,” North Lenoir coach Anthony Loftin said. “We stopped spacing the floor, we started taking quick shots, and we lost our aggressiveness on both ends of the floor. It’s a game Ayden-Grifton just wanted more than we did, which is the most disappointing thing.”
Atkinson’s fourth 3-pointer of the game ballooned A-G’s lead to 70-57 with 4:19 left in the game.
The Hawks didn’t go away and closed to within 74-70 on Trevor Sears’ trey with 1:26 remaining.
A pair of free throws by Richardson and a breakaway layup by Moses Tufts shut down the NL rally.
Atkinson crossed the 1,000-point barrier with two free throws that gave the Chargers a 74-66 lead with 1:42 to play.
“Jordan’s a great kid who’s been a great player for us,” Moye said. “I’m just glad he’s on our side.”
Tufts added 13 points and Richardson contributed 12 points and 9 rebounds for the Chargers.
Tyrek Artis paced the Hawks with 16 points and 10 boards before fouling out late in the contest. Sears and De’shaun Kee managed 12 points each for NL, and Jordan Blow added 10.
In the girls’ game, North Lenoir exploded out of the game for 29 first-quarter points and cruised to a 70-53 win to remain unbeaten in conference play.
Kanijah Taylor scored 21 points to lead NL, and Integrity McPhail added 18, all in the first half.
North Lenoir (7-4, 4-0) led by as many as 30 at 56-26 before the Chargers (4-8, 2-2) made things more interesting with a 15-0 spurt that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
Zy’kierah Andrews matched Taylor’s game-high total of 21 points and was the only Charger in double figures.
Janiya Jones added 10 for NL.
North Lenoir 19 21 14 18—72
Ayden-Grifton 15 26 22 17—80
HAWKS—Tyrek Artis 16, De’shaun Kee 12, Trevor Sears 12, Jordan Blow 10, Gatling 6, Koonce 6, Jones-Gatling 6, Copper 2, Wooten 2.
CHARGERS—Jordan Atkinson 21, Nathaniel Harris 19, Moses Tufts 13, James Richardson 12, Wright 9, Cook 2, Mitchell 2, Hudson 2.
North Lenoir 29 11 16 14—70
Ayden-Grifton 8 11 15 19—53
HAWKS—Kanijah Taylor 21, Integrity McPhail 18, Janiya Jones 10, Mason 9, A. Lynch 8, E. Lynch 2, Kornegay 2.
CHARGERS—Zy’kierah Andrews 21, Hardee 9, Little 9, Hardy 7, Docsh 3, Dunn 2, Smith 2.