The Eastern Regional Finals Preview: Kinston and Greene Central Edition
Greene Central’s Imajae Dodd goes up for a jump shot against Hertford County in Tuesday’s fourth-round matchup. Photo by William ‘Bud’ Hardy / Neuse News
The last two Eastern Carolina Conference teams know about the Regional Finals.
Greene Central’s boys and Kinston’s girls were in this same position last year, two wins away from a banner. While the Rams got one step closer in Greenville with a 61-57 victory over Clinton, the Vikings fell to North Pitt 71-51.
This year, the teams have found ways to deal with adversity in order to see Minges Coliseum again. Greene Central was blitzed by Kinston in a 60-25 Eastern Carolina Conference tournament finals loss and all but written off. Before the Vikings’ current 20-game winning streak, Kinston lost five straight, including three games in The John Wall Holiday Invitational by a combined 97 points. Considering what the teams have dealt with, facing undefeated Farmville Central teams should be a cakewalk, right? We’ll see on the court Saturday.
Both games will take place at ECU and tickets are $10. Now, here’s the breakdown of the games:
Greene Central (23-7) vs. Farmville Central (30-0), 2 p.m.
Playoff review: Greene Central defeated Wilson Beddingfield 90-64, South Granville 82-58, First Flight 78-69, Hertford County 90-57; Farmville Central defeated Providence Grove 93-43, St. Pauls 92-44, Kinston 78-66, Vance County 85-75
This will be the fourth meeting between these teams this season, a rarity among squads outside of conference play. Farmville Central has picked up three wins against Greene Central, but the Rams have played the Jaguars closer than any other team besides Fayetteville Academy — a team ranked No. 4 in the state according to Maxpreps and won the NCISAA state title.
The Jaguars won a state championship in 2016 and hasn’t forgotten what the Rams did last year, winning in The Den 57-46 to move on to Regionals. Since defeating Greene Central in overtime 77-71 Dec. 28, Farmville Central has defeated its last 17 opponents by double figures and wants to establish itself as the premier 2A school in Eastern North Carolina.
Greene Central has more experience, reaching three consecutive Regional Finals and winning at ECU last year for the team’s first state title game appearance. Anything less than the school’s first basketball championship will be considered a disappointment for the Rams, and the team should play accordingly.
Kinston (25-5) vs. Farmville Central (26-0), noon
Playoff review: Kinston defeated North Johnston 64-33, Roanoke Rapids 61-44, High Point Andrews 52-40, Ledford Senior 48-47; Farmville Central defeated Heide Trask 66-21, Whiteville 85-47, Vance County 79-58, North Carolina School of Science and Math 64-24
These teams are very similar in their styles of play. Defense is emphasized and the depth can wear many teams down. Both went undefeated in conference play, have numerous players sacrificing for the greater good and coaching staffs nearly anyone in North Carolina would wish to have.
Farmville Central has blown all but one team out, beating North Lenoir 64-59 on Dec. 5. Over the next 22 games, the only team to get within 11 was 4A powerhouse South Central, who finished 24-4 overall. The Jaguars have just two seniors on the roster, but it hasn’t mattered in any capacity. It’s been 13 years since Farmville Central’s first state championship, and the Jaguars have abilities to spare.
On the other end, Kinston has played seven games within single digits. The Vikings won six, including a dramatic 48-47 game against Ledford Senior in the fourth round. Kinston has only two seniors on its roster as well, but the eight juniors have received significant playing time over the years and played big roles in last year’s Regional run. The Vikings have been battle-tested and understand the stakes in trying to hoist their first championship banner since 2013.
Here’s to hoping for some great games at Minges Coliseum.