West Craven's Campbell reaches 1,000 points as he powers Eagles over Hawks
North Lenoir's Jayden Gatling goes up for a layup against West Craven in Friday's game. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News
The North Lenoir Hawks boys basketball team has played hard in every conference game, but it just hasn’t showed in the standings. A win against the second place West Craven Eagles would bolster their chances of making the postseason.
The Eagles held the lead for most of the game, but the Hawks struck back and nearly upset their visitors. West Craven went on a late run to take the game, 70-61.
“What a wild and fun game that was,” Eagles’ coach David Fernandez said. “The crowd here was loud. This is always a hard environment to play in. The crowd, especially that student section, got their team going. They are a talented group of kids. You can never count them out North Lenoir is very athletic. We had to fight all game against them.”
“We wanted to keep them off the free throw line and we couldn’t do that,” North Lenoir coach Anthony Loftin said. “When we got the lead, we played as if we were still chasing them. The guys played hard. I am very proud of them. They fought the whole time and never, ever gave up.”
In the game, Latrell Campbell reached 1,000 career points for the Eagles. His brother, Laqueze, had hit the milestone one week earlier against Ayden-Grifton. He needed three points to reach the milestone before the game.
“It feels good,” Campbell said. “This is a tough place to play in. The crowd was wild all game. I’ve been playing for three years on varsity. This means a lot to me to reach this mark for our school.”
Jordan Blow and Terrence Copper’s three-pointers would put the Hawks on a 7-0 run, but Campbell hit a three point shot from the left corner as he was falling backward. His shot put life back into the Eagles Campbell would score 12 of his game leading 24 points in the first as the Eagles would take a 19-17 lead after one.
At the start of the second, both teams lost their scoring touch, but as the second wore on, the Eagles began to hit their shots more consistently. The Eagles would go into halftime carrying a 37 -30 lead.
Coming back from halftime, the Hawks struck back. A three-pointer by De’Shaun Kee would give the Hawks their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. The two teams would end up tied at 52 heading into the fourth.
The Eagles had built up a three point lead early on in the fourth, but Kee hit another three pointer to tie it up again at 58. Unfortunately, the Eagles kept coming and the Hawks had used up all their magic.
“It was the little things that got us,” Loftin said. “We turned the ball over too much; especially bad cross court passes. We took a lot shots that we couldn’t hit at inopportune times. I know the guys are sad right now, but hopefully they can see what they can really do and come back from this. We were close to winning this. We can still be a strong team if we work at it.”
Blow and Jayden Gatling lead the Hawks with 13 points each. Kee would add 11 while Artis would have 12 rebounds and seven blocks to add to his seven points.
“You know, in the past our guys might have caved in,” Fernandez said. “They have learned how to fight hard in the trenches. The kids kind of coached themselves into doing what they had to do. Now, we just gotta take this one game at a time because this is such a hard conference to play in.”
WEST CRAVEN: Latreel Campbell 24, Sheldon Yates 16, Laqueze Campbell 15, Inmam 12, McKeel 2
NORTH LENOIR: Blow 13, Gatling 13, Kee 11, Copper 8, Artis 7, Koonce 5, Sears 4
The North Lenoir girls basketball team was hoping to bounce back after a close loss to the Kinston Vikings. On Friday night, they hosted the West Craven Eagles, who were hoping to stay in the playoff conversation with a win.
The Eagles fought well, trying to take advantage of an off-night by the Hawks, but North Lenoir would take the win, 46-29.
“We did shoot the ball well tonight,” North Lenoir coach Howard Wooley said. “As of late, we are not shooting well and I think that affects our confidence. Defensively, we were solid as we’ve been in every game. We played hard, but I think we missed a lot of easy shots. I think sometimes we get frustrated with ourselves and that can affect our energy. Still, I am proud of how hard we fought tonight.
Ashanti Lynch hit a three-point shot in the opening seconds of the game and Kanijah had four blocks in the first 90 seconds. North Lenoir never looked back. The first quarter didn’t see a lot of scoring, but the Hawks owned the tempo of the game. On defense, they were able to successfully shut down the Eagles’ attacks into their zone. A late three-pointer by Alaniah Kornegay lifted the Hawks to a 14-6 lead after one.
“Alaniah played her heart out tonight,” Wooley said. “She did a great job of moving the ball. Emmenia Lynch, I know it doesn’t show up on the stat sheets, but defensively she was there. She helped to make a lot of plays happen tonight.”
West Craven’s Kayla Simmons hit two early baskets at the start of the second to cut the lead down to five points. Both teams struggled to score as turnovers and poor shots limited offensive capabilities. Integrity McPhail’s three point shot from the right corner midway through the quarter stemmed any attempt at a comeback by the Eagles. The Hawks held a 20-15 lead at halftime.
“We had a lot of trouble finishing up at the basket,” West Craven coach Lea Wedesky said. “We’ve improved as a team over the course of the season. We play with a lot of energy. We played well against a team that pushed us hard defensively. We outrebounded them, but we struggled to hit free throws and baskets when we need to.”
It was almost three minutes before anyone scored in the second half. The stalemate was broken when Lynch, driving for a layup and realizing she couldn’t make it, tossed the ball behind her back to Taylor who made the easy shot. The Hawks would go on a 7-0 run before the Eagles would score. However, West Craven would come back in the third and crept to within five points just before the end of the quarter.
The Hawks would go into a full press defense at the start of the fourth. They still had trouble connecting with some of their shots, but they were denying clean passes to the Eagles. North Lenoir would start the fourth on a 11-0 run which would finally bury the Eagles; more than they scored in the entire third quarter. West Craven was held to just six points in the fourth.
“We have been successful in practice and we know we can’t take anyone in this conference for granted,” Wooley said. “We are in second place right now, but there is a cluster of four teams right behind us that are gunning for our spot and we have to be careful. There is going to be a mad scramble over the next few weeks and we have to be at our best.”
McPhail would score 11 and Ashanti Lynch scored 10 to lead the Hawks. Simmons would lead the Eagles in scoring with nine points.
WEST CRAVEN: Simmons 9, Abrams 8, Brautigam 7, Gray 5
NORTH LENOIR: McPhail 11, A Lynch 10, Taylor 9, Kornegay 7, Mason 3, E Lynch 2, Kittrell 2, Sparrow 2