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Bertie rolls to round two

WINDSOR – Rolling, rolling, rolling.

The Bertie High boy’s basketball team won their tenth game in a row Monday night as the Falcons began sectional play in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs. It was also Bertie’s seventh win by more than 15 points.

The Falcons sank their talons deep into Jacksonville’s Northside High School, besting the Monarchs, 83-52, highlighted by a 54-point second half offensive explosion with 35 of those points coming in the third quarter.

Keon Moore led the double-figure scoring attack with 19 points, with 15 from Norman Cherry III, and 10 from Wykevin Bazemore. Jaquan Jordan scored nine and had 13 rebounds as second year coach Lester Lyons’ bunch continued their strong post-season play.

“Our guys saw what we were lacking at halftime,” said Lyons, “and in the playoffs you’ve got to turn up the energy and intensity.

“We just came out of the locker room mad at halftime,” he added. “I just told the guys make your layups and get to the basket. They poured it on more than I thought tonight, but it worked.”

Despite two crowd-pleasing dunks for his first four points from Moore, Bertie still trailed in the first two minutes of the game. Lyons then went to his pressure defense – some man-to-man, and some zone – and Bertie reeled off an 8-4 run keyed by steals and layups to lead 13-9 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Falcons were too strong inside and the Monarchs were overmatched in the low post. Devonte Wiggins got a put-back and Moore added a dunk to stake the Falcons to a 17-15 lead, but Northside came back to tie it 17-all with six and a half minutes to the break.

It was as close as the Onslow County crew would get the rest of the game. One Bazemore layup put the Falcons back in front and his next gave them a lead they would not relinquish.

Cherry then got a three-point play thanks to a penetrating layup down the lane and a free throw and Jordan and Bazemore came back with strong play in the post to stake Bertie to a 29-21 lead at halftime.

And that’s when the fun began.

Bertie reeled off nine in a row.

Phillip Perry, who had just two points in the first half, became a beast on the backboards getting four of Bertie’s first six of the half. Bazemore then got a steal and a layup. Cherry got a breakaway layup in transition, was fouled, and though he missed the free throw, Bazemore got the put-back for a 40-23 lead.

Northside seemed rattled by the Bertie pressure defense and turnovers became easy layups and dunks for the Falcons.

When Bertie went inside the paint, the Monarchs had no answer for the frontline of Jordan, Perry and Wiggins; while reserves Isaac Allen and Josh Powell began lighting it up from the outside.

Northside couldn’t counter-punch and the Falcons had reeled off 35 points before the third quarter horn sounded.

The fourth quarter was mostly mop-up, but the crowd wanted still more offense and they got it. Jordan got six more points before giving way to the younger players and all the starters were done for the night with five minutes left in the game, leaving the reserves to score the final dozen points of the contest.

“Give ’em credit,” said Northside coach Tony Marshburn shaking his head, “they’re very athletic and in that third quarter they just jumped on our backs and didn’t let up.

“It seemed like at one time, ” he grinned, “that everything they were throwing up went in. When it turned into a track meet I knew we were done.”

“We’ve been preaching all year that there’ll come a time to peak,” said Lyons. “And I told them it needs to be at the end and that’s when we need to make a run.

“We know what it takes to get back to where we were last year,” he added with a smile, “because it takes a six-game winning streak to win it all.”