The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 4, 2013

Warriors split with Trojans on hardwood


LEGGETT — LEGGETT – The North Edgecombe Warriors have played two games and had just four practices. At times during their second game Tuesday night against Southeast Halifax it showed. The Warriors missed numerous chances to put the game away from the free throw line where they went 13 for 29. The allowed the Trojans to hang around, but the Warriors were able to put it away in the fourth quarter with a 42-36 win.

Points were few and far between in the first half. North Edgecombe (1-1) trailed 3-2 after one quarter, but in the second both teams decided it was time to score points. The Warriors outscored the Trojans 15-12 in the second quarter to take a 17-15 halftime lead.

"I told them to be patient during halftime, because we needed to work our offense," Warriors coach Mike Jones said. "We were rushing our shots and passes in the first half. We didn't take advantage of the turnovers we were forcing and I wanted to change that. I just wanted them to settle down."

The Warriors responded because they outscored the Trojans 10-6 in the third quarter and closed the quarter out on an 8-0 run behind tough play from seniors Rodney Conyers and Rontarius Graham. They both added four points apiece in that frame. Graham led the way with a game-high 18 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Conyers chipped in 11 and added nine boards.

"I was pleased with the way Rodney and Rontarius stepped up and took control after the rough start," Jones said. "I took them out of the game a few times early on to see what was going on. They finally realized and gave us the production we needed."

The Warriors weren't able to get any type of momentum going. So Jones rotated players in and out to find the right fit. It worked at the end of the third and Jones stayed with that five on the floor in the fourth quarter.

"We finally found that chemistry I had been looking for and I stayed with them," Jones said. "Having just three returners from last season makes it hard to find players that can gel together that fast."

Conyers gave the Warriors the boost they needed to begin the fourth when he converted a Trojans' turnover into points when he ran the floor and slammed it home. That gave the Warriors some energy. They went on a two mini-runs of 4-0 and 6-0, but the Trojans fought back. The Warriors were able to capitalize on free throws down the stretch that put the game away.

North Edgecombe forced 24 turnovers, but turned it over 22 times themselves. They converted the turnovers into 16 points and the Trojans scored 10 off their forced turnovers.

"We installed a new offense to move the ball around more and we are still learning it," Jones said. "That had something to do with some of the turnovers. We just need to get comfortable with it and I think we will be alright."

Lady Trojans 45 Lady Warriors 28

Turnovers and more turnovers were the key presence in the girl's game. North Edgecombe turned the ball over 37 times and Southeast Halifax turned it over 25 times. The Lady Trojans took advantage of the Lady Warriors' miscues and scored 23 points off the the Warriors' mistakes and defeated North Edgecombe 45-28.

"I tried all game to get them to settle down and quit trying to run with them (Southeast Halifax)," Lady Warriors coach Marion King said. "We didn't run our offense like we were supposed too. I wanted to get the ball inside more to our big girls, but we just didn't do it."

Marquisha Tucker led the way for the Warriors with nine points and eight rebounds. She went to the bench with three fouls in the second quarter with 2:05 left. She sat there most of the third quarter also, but while she was in the game she was productive. Brittany Blackwell was also instrumental inside while she was on the floor. She grabbed seven rebounds and scored three points. Chelsea King also chipped in eight.

In the third quarter, North Edgecombe went on an 8-0 run. They began working the ball inside to Tucker and Blackwell to get some points inside. But it didn't last long, because the Warriors went back to what they had done all game and tried to run with the Lady Trojans and that caused problems for them, because of careless ball handling and the turnovers just piled up.

"When we went on that run, we used our big girls inside and were able to score some points," King said. "We got lackadaisical again and got away from what we were doing. We have to work on our ball handling, because we made too many mistakes."

North Edgecombe missed 12 shots from within five feet of the basket and seven of them were on wide open chances.

"We have to score on our open lay ups," King said. "We missed way to many tonight and that caused problems for us also."

North Edgecombe is back in action 6 p.m. Friday when they host Ayden-Grifton.