Deja-vu: Contentnea-Savannah sweeps middle school hoops titles again
Contentnea-Savannah School’s Aysia Whitley (15) snatches a rebound during Saturday’s Lenoir County Middle School girls’ championship game at Bethel Christian Academy. Whitley was named the tourney’s MVP. Photo by Linda Whittington / Neuse News
For the second consecutive season, the best middle school basketball teams in Lenoir County are at Contentnea-Savannah School.
The Cougars swept the fifth annual Lenoir County Middle School basketball championships at Bethel Christian Academy as the CSS girls defeated Woodington, 27-24, and the boys downed Rochelle, 42-29.
The girls’ championship seemed sewed up after CSS took a commanding 25-16 lead after three periods. But Woodington battled back to within one point at 25-24 and had a chance to take a late lead before a turnover with under 4 seconds remaining resulted in a fast-break basket that provided the final score.
CSS coach Frank Bland couldn’t hide his pride of his Cougars.
“I am very proud of these girls – they have fought from Day 1,” Bland said. “They are very, very good girls and they come from great families. They’ve earned this championship and they deserve it. They worked hard all season long.”
Woodington coach Danny Fourre was pleased with his team’s rally in the fourth quarter.
“We held them scoreless there until that last shot they hit,” he said. “We have a great group of girls and I’m so blessed to coach them. … Our girls played hard and I can’t fault them for that.”
Katara Fisher led CSS with 11 points while all-tourney selection Ta’jah Pittman added eight. The tourney’s MVP was CSS point guard Aysia Whitley, who only had two points in the title game but was a leader for her squad throughout the tourney.
Woodington was paced by Tyazha Midgett’s eight points and Mary Grace Beyer’s six points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
The other girls’ all-tourney selections were Tatyeana Edwards of third-place Frink, Des’myah Croom of Rochelle and Briley Lanning of BCA.
In the boys’ title game, Rochelle led 9-6 at the end of the first quarter and took an 11-8 lead with 3:29 remaining before halftime before CSS went on an 8-0 run to end the half.
“We just lost focus,” Rochelle coach Joshua Dawson said. “We stopped taking care of the ball and stopped rebounding. But Contentnea-Savannah is a great team and they have a great coach. I give a lot of the credit to CSS.”
CSS coach Reggie Clark had a wide smile after the title win.
“It’s a great feeling for Contentnea-Savannah,” he said. “We never panicked – I told our team they needed to relax and just run our stuff. Our defense has carried us the whole year and it did again tonight.”
Tre’Shad Lynch came off the bench for CSS to lead both teams in scoring with 13 points. Tournament MVP Malik Williams scored all nine of his points in the third quarter for CSS, while CSS’ other all-tourney selection, Jakeem Hutchinson, added eight points, which included hitting 6-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Rochelle was led by all-tourney selection Jaylen Cobb’s six points, while Horace Smith also added six.
The other boys’ all-tournament selections were Bryson Graham of third-place Woodington, Wilkes Thomas of Arendell Parrott Academy, Jesse Jones of Children’s Village Academy, Hunter Coulombe of Frink and Patrick Sanders of Bethel.
The middle school championship is the brainchild of BCA head football coach Brick Crowder, who has organized the one-day tourney all five years of its existence. It’s continued to grow every year since its inception in 2015 – the stands were packed for both the championship games on Saturday, a fact that pleased Crowder.
“It’s really grown into this wonderful event for our community,” he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased; the crowds seem to get bigger and bigger each year. It’s a blessing to watch our kids enjoy the game they love here in our community.
“Kinston cares about basketball and it’s evident here today. To see our community rally around our young people, especially these middle school kids, is special.”
2019 Lenoir County Middle School basketball championships (at Bethel Christian Academy)
Frink 29, Bethel Christian Academy 3
Contentnea-Savannah 30, Rochelle 28
Woodington 16, Frink 10
Rochelle 28, Frink 18
Contentnea-Savannah 27, Woodington 24
Children’s Village Academy 29, Bethel 23
Parrott Academy 30, Frink 10
Woodington 33, CVA 19
Contentnea-Savannah 49, Woodington 11
Parrott 19, Woodington 13
Contentnea-Savannah 42, Rochelle 29