Styles leads Kinston boys, Lynch paces NL girls to EC2A tourney wins

Styles leads Kinston boys, Lynch paces NL girls to EC2A tourney wins

Kinston’s Dontrez Styles slams home two of his 16 points in the Vikings’ win over South Lenoir in Tuesday’s Eastern Carolina 2A first-round tournament game. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News

LA GRANGE — A pair of two-seeds in the Eastern Carolina 2A rolled in their league tournament openers Tuesday night in Wheat Swamp.

The Kinston boys routed South Lenoir, 66-43, while the North Lenoir girls defeated Greene Central by the mercy rule, 77-29.

Sophomore Dontrez Styles led the Vikings with 15 points.

“We got off to a good start,” he said. “We got sloppy in the second, but came through to take it on in the fourth. We wanted to play hard. We need to focus on not turning the ball over and play the game we need to play.”

The Blue Devils played very aggressive basketball early on to keep it close, but a Styles dunk halfway through the first quarter gave KHS a 24-7 lead after one period.

South Lenoir went on a 9-3 run to start the second as Kinston was held to just five points overall. The Blue Devils scored 17, bringing the score to 29-24.

“We came out and played our hearts out tonight,” South Lenoir coach Jeremy Barnett said. “We brought some of our JV boys up for some experience and they handled it well. They didn’t give up the entire game.”

Kinston took control in the third quarter, though, and put the game on ice.

 “Initially, we came out strong and with a lot of focus. We hit early shots and played well defensively,” Kinston coach Perry Tyndall said. “We were up by 20 points and then we got complacent. Our defense let them get some points. Then, we kept giving up the ball and got frustrated. It was bad.

“I have to give Coach Jeremy credit. His guys came out to fight and they scrapped with us the whole time. They had the momentum for quite a while there.”

The trio of Jaeden Dixon, C.J. Kennion and Geovanni Williams scored seven points each to lead the Blue Devils, who end their 2018-19 campaign with a 4-19 record.

“You know, we didn’t have the record this year that we would have hoped for,” Barnett said. “But, I wouldn’t trade any one of these guys under my roof for anyone else. We have a good group of guys coming back. We’re gonna work out during the summer and be ready to go next year and do battle again.

“I’m extremely proud of my boys and everything they did this year.”

Advancing to the second round, Kinston (20-6) will now face off against West Craven, a team that they split in the regular season. That game will be at North Lenoir at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

“This is a different game plan than what we faced tonight,” Styles said. “We will have to rebound better, play solid defense, and figure out how to shut down their two guards.” 

SOUTH LENOIR: Dixon 7, Kennion 7, Williams 7, Freeman 6, Ellis 6, Thigpen 4, Raines 3, Haddock 3

KINSTON: Styles 15, Parson 9, McBynum 7, Williams 7, Wooten 7, Roberts 5, Minott 4, Pitts 4, Koonce 4, Dixon 4

The NL girls defended their home court and defeated the winless Rams, 77-29. Ashanti Lynch powered the Hawks by scoring 32 points with seven rebounds and five steals.  North Lenoir’s Christiannyah Sparrow led all players with 11 rebounds. Kaliya Sutton led the Rams with 14 points and Aaliyah Davis added 10.

“This win was good for us,” Lynch said. “We came out with a lot of energy and put it all on the table, both offensively and defensively, the whole game. Now, we just gotta bring the same energy tomorrow night and not take any team we face for granted.”

North Lenoir coach Howard Wooley was proud of his team’s effort.

“It was a good team effort,” he said. “We did great on defense. We shot the ball well and got some easy baskets because of how well we played defensively. We shot the ball very well from the free throw line (14 for 20) which is something we have struggled with all season. That is something we have been working on because when you are in tight games, you need to do that.”

With the win, the Hawks (14-7) will now face off against Washington (12-9) at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

“They are a good team,” Wooley said of the Pam Pack. “They started off the season slowly, but got stronger as the season went on. We can celebrate this one, but we have to be ready to play them next. It’s going to be a hard fought game.”

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