The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

January 28, 2013

County teams hoping for strong finishes

HARD ROAD AHEAD

Sports Correspondent
Van Holland

TARBORO — With over half of the season already gone and coming down to crunch time, all six Edgecombe County high school basketball teams are looking for a way to redeem themselves the second time through their conference schedule and finish strong.

Teams in the county have all been plagued by turnovers this season, which has caused concern for all of the coaches, because most of them have been careless and unforced turnovers.

The Tarboro Lady Vikings have three things that they have been trying to overcome this season. Turnovers, missed free throws and missed lay-ups. The Lady Vikings have had trouble recently scoring in transition after they have forced their opponents to turn the ball over. They are unable to connect on easy and uncontested lay-ups.

Earlier this season, head coach Jamie Willoughby was worried about her teams defense, but now that they have fixed that problem and now they are unable to capitalize on the transition points after the forced turnovers.

The Lady Vikings are in fifth place in the Eastern Plains Conference with a 2-4 record and 6-11 overall. If the Lady Vikings had been able to score on transition points and had cut down on the turnovers, they would probably be in second or third place in the conference, because they have lost two games that were close.

With five conference games remaining, the Lady Vikings will have to find their identity again and try to overcome some of their obstacles they have be unable to get around.

The Tarboro Viking boys have struggled all season and wins haven't come easy for them. They have had a hard time scoring this season.

Tarboro is in sixth place in the conference with a 1-5 conference record and are 4-13 overall. They are on a four game losing streak under second-year head coach Craig Savage.

The main problem on the defensive end of the floor for the Vikings has been rebounding. They are letting their opponents score on second and third chance opportunities. Tarboro's opponents have out rebounded them in every game this season and that has been a grave concern for Savage.

Savage wasn't pleased with his starters during a recent game, because they were being selfish with the ball and weren't running their offense. He said he did see a positive sign from his bench players though and they showed him they could give production.

Last year, Savage carried his team through the conference tournament unbeaten after a poorly played regular season and lost in the tournament finals. If his team wants to make the playoffs this season, they are going to have to pick up the mixed pieces or have to win the conference tournament this time around.

The Vikings will be back in action tonight when they travel to Rocky Mount Prep to play the Jaguars in  non-conference action.

For the SouthWest Edgecombe Lady Cougars, they are still trying to find a way to get their first win of the season under veteran head coach Sandra Langley. She has built some incredible teams during her career, but has seen the program go on a downward spiral the last three seasons.

Langley said the team has two major problems that they haven't been able to fix all season. The first problem is controlling the basketball against a full court press, because she lacks a true point guard and has relied on sophomore Montana York to get the job done. The other problem is scoring. Langley hasn't found a player who can give her consistent scoring on game by game basis.

Langley said all she can do is continue to work with her team and try to smooth out the rough edges. She has seen improvement in her team this year and has praised them time and again for not giving up and continuing to play their hearts out.

A fast paced offense has been the main reason for the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougar boys success this season. They are 10-5 overall and are in fifth place in the conference with a 2-4 record. But first-year head coach Anthony Burns knows what his team is capable of doing and has high expectations of them the second time through the conference schedule.

SouthWest has put some impressive numbers together this season and have relied on senior leaders, Javine Hinton and Anthony Coley. At the beginning of the season, Burns said those two were his floor generals and he was looking for them to run the show. They have been able to do that except for one game this season when they were shut down by the Kinston Vikings last week. Kinston held Hinton to two points and Coley scored 10. Other then that performance, the captains have done everything they have been asked too. They have put the team on their backs and rode them to victory lane on numerous occasions this season.

The Cougars could be on their way to a strong finish this season and have a good shot at making the playoffs if they can win the majority of their games that are left this season.

The Cougars will be back in action Tuesday when they travel to Farmville Central to play the Jaguars. The Jaguars upended the Cougars the first time around 71-48, but Burns has a different mind-set this time around and knows what to expect.

The North Edgecombe Lady Warriors are having trouble finding a way to win lately.  They have lost two games in a row and are sitting towards the bottom of the pack in the conference. They are 8-8 overall and are 1-5 in Tar-Roanoke Conference action. Their lone win in the conference came when they blew out Northampton County. Other then that win, the Lady Warriors have struggled to score points and are turning the ball over with careless mistakes.

First-year head coach Marion King hopes her Lady Warriors can bounce back with five remaining conference games and finish the season off on a strong note in hopes of making the playoffs this year.

The surprise of the county is the North Edgecombe Warrior boys. They have woken up on the hardwood and have moved up in the rankings in the conference and have won two straight to give them a 4-2 conference record. They are 5-11 overall.

First-year head coach Mike Jones said his team had to come together if they wanted to have a positive season. After losing a tough one to Northampton County two weeks ago, his Warriors have pulled through for him and beat Kipp Pride and Weldon.

If the Warriors want to continue their winning ways they are going to have to do it on the road, because their remaining schedule has them playing four of their last five games away from home.

Jones has preached defensive pressure to his team all season and  during the last two weeks they have decided to follow through with their coaches orders. Their defensive pressure has turned out to be strong and has caused problems for opponents  in the conference this season. The Warriors have a good chance of making the playoffs and possibly finishing as high as first in the conference if they continue to play like they have as of late.

The Warriors are back in action Tuesday when they travel to Northampton County to try and get their revenge against the Jaguars.