By VAN HOLLAND
PINETOPS – Anthony Burns and his SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars have figured out what it takes to win on the hardwood. A good offensive flowing system and tough-nosed defense that forces turnovers. Those two keys were instrumental for them Friday and Saturday when they breezed through both games of the Edgecombe County Holiday Classic at their school to win the second straight tournament championship under Burns.
"Winning this tournament shows that we are still hungry and are playing good right now," Burns said. "We just continue to win games and were staying hungry."
The first game of the tournament, they defeated county rival North Edgecombe for the third time this season and Saturday, they found a way to get revenge from an early season loss, when they thumped the Greene Central Rams 71-57 in the title game.
"We did a nice job playing together all four quarters," Burns said. "We still have some things that we need to clean up, but at the end of the game we did what we had to do to get the win."
SouthWest (10-3) had five players with at least nine points and were led by tournament MVP, Jason Jones, who scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds. Jones averaged 16.5 points in the two games to earn the top honor.
"I feel like I deserved to win the award because I have been playing good ball lately and I was feeling my shot," Jones said. "We've been doing good as a team and have worked hard to get better."
All-Tournament selections, Antonio Dickens added 11 and Fabrion Bandy chipped in nine.
SouthWest used a big second quarter to pull away from the Rams. The Cougars used a 9-0 run to start the quarter. Bandy hit a three-pointer, then a layup. Then Jones added a basket on a short floater and Dickens scored off a Rams turnover and forced Greene Central to call a timeout.
After the timeout, SouthWest used another run 14-7 run to close out the half, which included the Rams coach getting a technical foul for arguing about the officiating. SouthWest led 34-16 at the half.
The Cougars played back and forth with the Rams in the second half and things nearly got out of control with players talking back and forth between the two teams, but the officials stepped in and called numerous technicals and calmed it down.
The Cougars shot 1`2 for 24 from the free throw line and turned the ball over 15 times. They took advantage of 22 ram miscues and scored 14 points off of those mistakes.
The Cougars won't be back in action until Friday when they travel to play at Nash Central.