Fourth-round NCHSAA playoff preview — ECC edition

Fourth-round NCHSAA playoff preview — ECC edition

Greene Central’s Imajae Dodd hopes to make his third straight 2A Eastern Regional Finals. The Rams face Hertford County in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 2A playoffs Tuesday. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy

Who’s going to Greenville Saturday?

There are two local teams still in the hunt and this is the last home game for both. The winners of these contests head to Minges Coliseum at ECU for the NCHSAA Eastern Regional Finals and the losers head home.

The remaining teams have been here before, and here’s an outlook on the teams hoping to stop them.

BOYS

No. 6 Hertford County (19-10) at No. 2 Greene Central (22-7), 7 p.m.

Playoff results: Greene Central defeated Wilson Beddingfield 90-64, South Granville 82-58, Kill Devil Hills First Flight 78-69; Hertford County defeated Whiteville 77-63, Burlington Cummings 85-68, Carrboro 72-66

After winning its first two games with fast starts and comfortable margins, Greene Central was blitzed by First Flight early and trailed 23-11 after the first quarter. The Rams took on the challenge, grounded the Nighthawks and are now one game away from their third consecutive Regional Finals.

The mindset has been geared toward getting back to the state championship game after a 63-59 defeat to Marshville Forest Hills last year, and this Greene Central variation has even more depth. Last year’s Rams relied heavily on the starters, but the GC bench has certainly stepped up in 2018-19.

It’ll seem like déjà vu plays a bit of a role when Hertford County comes into town. The Bears fell to the Rams 62-42 in the fourth round of the NCHSAA 2A playoffs on Feb. 28, 2017, and will seek revenge. Hertford started the season 6-7 and lost two games to First Flight (including a 72-64 loss in the Northeastern Coastal 2A conference tournament finals), but the Bears have righted the ship.

Although the leading scorers of the team weren’t around in 2017 — freshman Keondre Rodgers averages 13.8 ppg and sophomore Daylan Askew puts up 10.5 ppg — 11 players were, along with Hertford County coach Charles Simmons.

GIRLS

No. 10 Thomasville Ledford (23-6) at No. 3 Kinston (24-5), 6 p.m.

Playoff results: Kinston defeated North Johnston 64-33, Roanoke Rapids 61-44, High Point Andrews 52-40; Ledford defeated Goldsboro 73-32, Croatan 41-29, Bertie 59-38

Kinston’s Quiaira Powell goes up for a jump shot as High Point Andrews’ Anaya Cureton closes out during the third-round playoff game March 2. The Vikings hope to reach their second straight Eastern Regionals with a win over Ledford Senior Tuesday. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy

Kinston’s Quiaira Powell goes up for a jump shot as High Point Andrews’ Anaya Cureton closes out during the third-round playoff game March 2. The Vikings hope to reach their second straight Eastern Regionals with a win over Ledford Senior Tuesday. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy

This is very familiar territory for the Vikings after last year’s trip to the regional finals. Most of the players on the current roster were sophomores and played significant roles. Losing a pair of strong post players in Danielle Heath and Natasia Wooten to graduation hurt a bit early in the 2018-19 season, but the Vikings have used its staples of depth and defense to tear through the competition and have a 19-game winning streak to defend Tuesday.

Kinston goes 12 deep and there’s no telling who will lead the team offensively — the Vikings sacrifice for the greater good of the team, chemistry is immaculate and they can keep pressure for the full 32 minutes.

The Panthers may not have the pure depth of the Vikings (then again, very few teams in the state do) but Ledford Senior hasn’t won 14 of its last 15 by accident. Offensively, Lyrik Thorne is the driving force as the leading scorer in Davidson County history.

Thorne is a threat from everywhere and averages more than 27 points per game, with Ashlyn Roark keeping defenses honest from the perimeter. The Panthers have been beating teams pretty easily lately, as all of the games in their current seven-game winning streak decided by 10 or more.

Expect sellouts in both Kinston and Snow Hill, so plan accordingly for Tuesday and if you can’t get to the games, follow the hashtag #NeuseNewsScores on Twitter — Neuse News will have you covered throughout the night.

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