Kinston boys, Washington girls advance to ECC tournament finals
LA GRANGE — There were no lead changes in The Swamp on the road to the Eastern Carolina 2A Conference tournament finals.
In the boys' game, Kinston defeated West Craven 63-50 Wednesday at North Lenoir in the semifinals. The teams split the regular-season meetings by a combined five points, but the Vikings started strong and never relinquished their advantage.
Now, the Rams face Greene Central for the third time this season and second straight year in the ECC finals. Last year, the Vikings won 61-60 in the championship and hope to secure their 15th consecutive trophy Friday.
"I thought the last two nights we had great starts before letting teams claw back in (starting with Tuesday's game against South Lenoir)," Kinston coach Perry Tyndall said. "We’re not going to hold teams scoreless, but we lost a little focus and got impatient. Still, the guys were able to compose themselves and were aggressive throughout.”
Judah McBynum set the tone for the Vikings with eight points during a 14-2 run to start the game. The Eagles started 1-for-10 and seemed out of it when Dontrez Styles went up for a one-handed jam for a 22-9 Kinston lead midway through the second quarter. Instead, Latrell Campbell scored seven points during a 13-4 spurt to close the frame, bringing West Craven within 26-22 at the break.
LaQueze Campbell’s steal and layup to start the third brought the Eagles within two, and after the teams traded baskets, Styles scored six points during a 7-2 run to put Kinston up 35-28. McBynum added a slam later in the frame as the Vikings went up by as many as 12 heading into the fourth.
Kinston stretched the advantage to 15 in the fourth and although West Craven got within nine late, the Vikings ended it at the line.
Now, the focus shifts toward Greene Central as the Vikings hope to replicate the success of the last meeting. Kinston avenged a 64-58 overtime loss in Snow Hill Dec. 14 with a 55-42 victory Jan. 29.
“It’s going to be an exciting game, and we’ve got to come out and execute,” Styles said. “If we can play defense like we did last time, we should be good.”
West Craven coach David Fernandez said the Vikings played like a contender Wednesday.
“Kinston was motivated and we tried to take that initial hit, but wound up playing catch up after that,” Fernandez said. “We played hard, but that was the state powerhouse Kinston.”
KINSTON 63, WEST CRAVEN 50
WC 9 13 12 16—50
K 16 10 19 18—63
WEST CRAVEN — Laqueze Campbell 21, Latrell Campbell 17, Yates 6, McKeel 2, D. Campbell 2, Inman 2
KINSTON — Dontrez Styles 22, Judah McBynum 13, Minott 9, Parson 8, Williams 4, Roberts 3, Wooten 2, Koonce 2
Three-points: WC — Laq. Campbell 3, Lat. Campbell. K — McBynum 2.
In the girls game, Washington defeated North Lenoir 59-41 Wednesday in the Eastern Carolina Conference tournament semifinals. Washington never trailed against the Hawks and will face Kinston Friday in the ECC championship game.
Last season, the Pam Pack fell to the Vikings 52-47 in the finals.
"We've got to be ready (for Kinston on Friday), matching their focus and playing our game," Washington coach Ralph Biggs said. "(Against North Lenoir) the girls came out ready to play and Daria Jones hit some big shots for us."
North Lenoir hit just one of its first 15 shots and Washington took advantage, racing out to a 16-3 lead. The Hawks battled back and got within 17-14 on an Alainah Kornegay basket early in the second quarter, but the Pam Pack went on a 17-2 spurt to re-establish control. Daria Jones scored 13 points with three perimeter baskets as the Pam Pack took a 34-20 lead at the break.
Washington never let North Lenoir cut the advantage to single digits in the second half. Jones continued to score seemingly at will, finishing with 31 points.
"My teammates played a big part," Jones said. "They got me going and I was able to knock shots down without pressure."
As North Lenoir waits for Saturday to see its NCHSAA 2A playoff seeding, Hawks coach Howard Wooley said he knew Washington would be a tough opponent.
"I know they had a slow start this season, but they've gotten stronger as time's progressed," Wooley said. "They were able to get separation and we weren't consistent enough to close (the margin), but the girls fought hard."
Briasia Somerville scored 10 points for Washington. For North Lenoir, Ashanti Lynch had a team-high 18 points and Emmenia Lynch added 11.
WASHINGTON 59, NORTH LENOIR 41
W 16 18 10 15 — 59
NL 7 14 11 9 — 41
WASHINGTON — Daria Jones 31, Briasia Somerville 10, Ruther 7, Smith 3, Cobb 2, Blount 2, Boomer 2, Redmond 2
NORTH LENOIR — Ashanti Lynch 18, Emmenia Lynch 11, Kornegay 7, Jones 4, Sparrow 1