The SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars used forced turnovers, 18 offensive rebounds and second and third chance opportunities to their advantage Friday night to defeat the Tarboro Vikings in the Edgecombe County Holiday Christmas tournament. They scored 24 points off of those turnovers and extra chance shots. SouthWest defeated Tarboro 64-56 to win the championship.
"We can't give up that many extra chances or turn the ball over like and win," Tarboro head coach Craig Savage said. "The little things we don't think about during the course of the game caused us to come out on the short end. Those things hurt us."
Javin Hinton and Anthony Coley have been the floor generals for the Cougars all season. They combined for 34 points and grabbed 24 rebounds. Hinton led the way with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Coley added 16 points and 14 boards.
Hinton and Coley wanted revenge from last years lost in the tournament. That lost left a bad taste in the seniors mouths and they wanted to redeem themselves.
"It felt good to come back and win the tournament during my senior year," Coley said. "It was just great – we knew we had to play hard on both ends of the court especially defense."
Hinton said it felt great because they played as a team the entire game. He said they prepared and were ready for the challenge.
"We just had to stay under control," Hinton said. "I knew I had to be a leader and I put the guys on my shoulders to carry them."
Cougars’ first year head coach Anthony Burns was excited about his teams win. He was pleased with his teams performance and were glad that they didn't give up on either end of the floor.
"We threw all the records out before we stepped on the floor," Burns said. "We knew who ever made the least amount of mistakes would probably win. We are heading the right direction with this win. We are getting better and that is all I asked of my guys to continue to get better everyday. We still have to get good enough to compete in the conference, but we are getting their."
SouthWest controlled the tempo most the game. They jumped out to an early 10-4 lead and forced Savage to call a timeout.
"I told the guys to settle down because I knew we were going to be a little nervous," Savage said. "I knew they were a good team and would make a run. I just wanted the guys to relax and play their style of ball."
Coming out of the timeout freshman Toney Gregory scored on a layup for the Vikings, but the Cougars weren't going to lose the momentum. Hinton hit a five foot jumper on the ensuing possession. The Cougars then forced a Tarboro turnover, which led to a Devonte Williams three-pointer from the wing to give the Cougars a 15-6 lead with 1:08 left. After another Tarboro turnover, Hinton scored on a layup. Markese Clapp then added a basket for Tarboro. Fabrion Bandy added another Cougar basket as time expired to give the Cougars a 19-8 lead after one quarter.
Both teams played back and forth throughout the second quarter. SouthWest jumped out early and put a 6-0 run together. Coley got his team fired up after he caught a rebound in mid-air and slammed it back home with one hand. After that Tarboro inched their way back into the game as they closed out the half on an 8-0 run and trailed 28-21 at halftime.
"I thought the group I had out there before halftime did a good job," Savage said. "I told them at halftime to keep fighting and not to let up. I told them we needed to quit making silly mistakes because they were executing off of them."
Both teams tried to grab momentum in the third quarter and push the opposing teams defense, but neither team could grab the advantage. A few big baskets by both teams kept the game close. SouthWest led 41-33 after three quarters.
In the fourth, the Cougars were bound and determine they weren't going to give up the lead. Tarboro played right with the Cougars through the first four plus minutes of the quarter. Kelvin Jones added two big threes and Quay Wooten added two big baskets for the Cougars. Tarboro put a small run together which forced Burns to take a timeout.
"I told the guys we had to get live on defense and talk more," Burns said. "There wasn't much energy and I wanted my guys to change that."
Coming out of the timeout, SouthWest set a play up and tried to find and Coley inside. The Vikings defensive pressure wouldn't allow that, so Hinton settled for a six foot jumper. The ball came off of the rim and Coley grabbed the rebound and slammed it with two hands. From that point on the Cougars controlled the momentum and were able to hang on for the win.
Coley was named MVP of the tournament, while Hinton and Debronn Best were named to the All-Tournament team.
Jones and Maliek Hudson received the honors for Tarboro.