By VAN HOLLAND
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
PINETOPS – Second-year coach Anthony Burns has seen his SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars play up and down all season. Wednesday night, he saw glimpses of what he hopes will be a continuous thing when they handed the Bertie Falcons their first loss of the season when they defeated them 60-54.
"We finished the game like I'd hoped we would," Burns said. "Hopefully we are starting to make that maturity turn that I've been looking for all season."
The Cougars (4-2) had three players in double figures. Quantellas Norwood led the way with a double-double and a game-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Fabrion Bandy knocked down 15 and grabbed seven boards and Devonte Williams added 12 points.
Williams and Bandy were clutch in the fourth quarter when they scored six points apiece and helped the Cougars maintain the lead. Bandy hit three jumpers and Williams added an old fashion three point play and three free throws.
"Devonte and Fabrion both proved themselves tonight," Burns said. "They both gave us some good scoring in the game."
Tuesday night, Burns relied on his bench players to give him some production against North Edgecombe, but his starting five and a two off the bench played the majority of the game. That's what Burns had been looking for was consistency from his starters.
"We have began to play with maturity and everyone is accepting their roles," Burns said. "We've had players step up and give us positive minutes and some point production."
SouthWest made a run in the third quarter to open up the lead after Bertie coach Kelvin Hayes received a technical foul for questioning calls. After Williams knocked down one of two free throws, the Cougars closed the quarter out on a 7-2 run that gave them a 41-34 lead.
"We talked at halftime and made a couple of adjustments," Burns said. "We came out and turned up our defensive pressure and were able to make them turn the ball over and force some shots."
The Cougars turned the ball over 18 times and forced Bertie to turn it over 14 times. The Cougars capitalized on the Falcons miscues and scored nine points off of them.
Lady Falcons 63 Lady Cougars 33
In girl's action, the Lady Cougars had their second bad game in a row, where they had as many turnovers as points. SouthWest turned the ball over 46 times against Bertie and the Lady Falcons were able to score 32 points off those turnovers. The Lady Falcons defeated SouthWest 63-33.
Feshman guard Tia Farmer led the way for the Cougars with 11 points and freshman teammate Teleyah Owens added seven, while Bethany Barnes chipped in six and grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked five shots before she fouled out in the fourth quarter.
"Our ball handling has to improve," Cougars coach Sandra Langley said. "We faced some big girls and forced a lot of shots. We made too many mistakes in the backcourt against their press."
Bertie's De'najah Porter scored a game-high 16 points for the Falcons and had five blocked shots.
The Falcons size was just too much for the Cougars. The Falcons starting five were all taller than the Cougars bigs and Berie took advantage of the mismatches. They controlled the game from the outset and won the battle inside in what turned out to be a game of free throws. There were a total of 54 foul shots taken between the two teams and over 40 fouls called in the contest.
SouthWest trailed 15-7 after one quarter, but in the second, Bertie opened their lead up and held the Cougars to just four points in the second quarter. That turned out to be the momentum change and the Cougars didn't have a chance to make a run.
SouthWest will host Tarboro Friday in Sandra Langley Gymnasium. JV girls start at 3:45 p.m. and the other games will follow.