The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Sports

December 11, 2013

Cougars, Warriors split on hardwood

LEGGETT — LEGGETT – The SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars didn't know how to react in the first half when they tried continuously to pull away from the North Edgecombe Warriors, but just couldn't find a way.

Cougars second-year coach Anthony Burns had his team full-court pressing the Warriors the entire first half, but the Warriors found a way to break the press and score points. So Burns figured out what the problem was and made adjustments at halftime. The adjustments worked and the Cougars found a way to extend their lead and defeat North Edgecombe 82-53.

"I made an adjustment at halftime and took off the full court press. We went back to our old school half court man-to-man and played our style of ball," Burns said. "I told them giving up 33 points in the first half was entirely too many. And I told them that if it continued I would continue to rotate guys in and out and see who wanted to play defense."

The Cougars responded to their coaches order. After leading 41-33 at halftime, the Cougars came out in the third quarter and turned up the defensive pressure on the Warriors in their half court man-to-man defense. They forced North Edgecombe to turn the ball over nine times in the quarter and turned those miscues into eight points. SouthWest closed out the quarter on an 11-0 run and held North Edgecombe to just five points in the quarter. SouthWest led 58-38 after three.

"Our defensive intensity was a lot better in the second half and we showed it in the third quarter when we pulled away from them," Burns said. "We have to work on our defense though, because we have to play four quarters of good defense."

Quantellas Norwood led the way for SouthWest with 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Fabrion Bandy added 12. Jarratt Mobley came off the bench and hit three, three-pointers to give the Cougars a boost.

"It's great to get scoring from different guys," Burns said. "We try to push everyone in practice and make it more competitive where the starting five won't be the same every game. That showed tonight, because we had more players scoring for us."

Warriors second-year coach Mike Jones wasn't pleased with his team's second half defensive performance.

"Our offense played the best we have all season," Jones said. "But I'm just very disappointed in our defense, because our guys didn't bring back out the intensity we had in the first half."

North Edgecombe was playing without senior leader Rodney Conyers, who was benched the entire game, which was a coaches decision that Jones said was in-house and the reason couldn't be released.

"Sometimes a coach has to make decisions," Jones said. "When you make those decisions you have to stand by them no matter what the outcome is."

Conyers' teammates tried to pick up his slack, but the second half mistakes turned out to be too many.

Senior Rontarius Graham led the way with a game-high 19 points and grabbed six rebounds. Sha'mon Johnson chipped in 13 and Monquez Adkins added 10.

North Edgecombe turned the ball over 26 times and the Cougars converted those turnovers into 16 points. The Cougars turned the ball over 14 times.

"We have to work on our defense if we want to get better," Jones said. "We also have to take control of the offense and stop turning the ball so much. I was pleased with the way we scored as many points as we did."

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