AHOSKIE – Hertford County came back from a sluggish start.
The Bears, hosting Eastern Wayne in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A basketball playoffs, led by a single point (11-10) after one quarter. From there, however, HCHS took control and cruised to a 74-63 victory.
“We started the game sluggishly,” HCHS Head Coach Charles Simmons said. “From the second quarter through the rest of the game, we ran our offensive sets and pushed the ball on fast breaks.
“We also had a very good defensive effort,” he added. “It was a good win for us.”
The Bears, now 23-2 for the season, saw the Warriors take a 14-13 lead early in the third quarter, but got their own offense started moments later.
Lamar Monger, who led all scorers with 18 points, hit a pair of free throws before Deshawn Outlaw scored from the floor. After Jamere Thomas scored for Eastern Wayne, the Bears got back-to-back hoops from Marcus Burnell and Antonio Vaughan to surge ahead 21-16.
The Warriors were able to get back within one (25-24) after a Thomas three-pointer later in the second period, but the Bears closed the first half on a 10-2 run that gave them a comfortable halftime margin.
Monger had a hoop and two free throws to start the spurt which was finished by consecutive baskets by Burnell, Vaughan and Outlaw, giving HCHS a 35-26 halftime edge.
Outlaw scored the first four points of the second half to push the Bears’ lead to 39-26.
Eastern Wayne was able to close within seven (43-36) after a 6-0 spurt midway through the period and got as close as four (46-42) later in quarter.
The Bears led 50-44 at the end of the third quarter and held that same six-point edge (56-50) early in the final period.
Burnell scored once from the charity stripe and Vaughan made a bucket to push that lead to 59-50.
Eastern Wayne kept the contest within reach until the Bears went on a 7-2 spurt midway through the final period. Vaughan scored twice and Monger had a bucket and a free throw during the run that gave the Bears a 66-54 lead.
HCHS then hit 4-of-6 from the line late in the contest to seal the victory and advance to the second round of the playoffs.
In addition to Monger’s 18 points, the Bears had four other players in double figures. Outlaw led that group with 16 followed by 15 from Vaughan, Shawn Reid’s 12 and Burnell’s 11 points.
Hossan Best led Eastern Wayne with 16 points.
HCHS will now host White Oak at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday) in the second round of the sectional playoffs.
HCHS (74): Lamar Monger n 18, Deshawn Outlaw n 16, Antonio Vaughan n 15, Shawn Reid n 12, Marcus Burnell n 11, Jamal Jones n 2
Wayne (63): Hossan Best n 16, Jamere Thomas n 12, Will White n 10, Dayvion Whisenhunt n 7, Orlando Midgette n 7, Cody Kirkantay n 6, Dominique Saddler n 3, Marvin Bowman – 2