Plymouth holds off Bertie

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2011

AHOSKIE – Everyone said this would be one of the biggest games of the tournament, and it lived up to the billing.

When the dust settled, Plymouth had topped Bertie 67-61 in  the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty in a game closer than the final score indicates.

With a minute-sixteen to play, Bertie had fought back to get within a point, 60-59, but junior guard Carl McCray scored the final seven points of the game for his team, including an electrifying, crowd-pleasing slam dunk to close it out.

McCray finished with 37 points, 18 in the first half and 19 in the second. No other Plymouth player was in double figures.

Raekwon Williams had 14 to lead Bertie in scoring with a trio of Falcons having nine each: Deshandre Day, Dreshaun Morris and Shaquille White. Tykevis Bazemore finished with six.

“It was just such a tough game all the way,” said grinning Plymouth coach Marvin Davenport as he and his team walked off the court after the game.”We beat a really good team tonight and we’re just happy to be in the championship game.”

Plymouth will face Hertford County for the title and trophy tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m.

The semi-final was a game played in spurts: an even first half, Plymouth taking charge in the third quarter, and then Bertie viciously fighting for their tournament lives down the stretch.

The Falcons just ran out of spurts.

Bazemore’s jump shot opened the game and gave Bertie its first lead.  The game then went back-and-forth as three-point shots began to rain down, the last one putting the Falcons in front, 9-8.

McCray was fouled after making his next two shot attempts, but could not cash in with the free throw.  It kept the game tight.

Reginald Lee, Day and Tyhuan Moore scored for Bertie, but late three-pointers from McCray and Devonte Spruill gave the Vikings a 21-17 lead after one quarter.

Seven straight points to open the second quarter gave Plymouth an 11- point lead, 28-17, but here comes Bertie. After a timeout the Falcons had a six-point run of their own to pull within five, 28-23.

Bertie added to that and got it down to two points twice, including at halftime; trailing at the break by just a deuce, 36-34

Plymouth opened up a seven-point lead in the first five minutes of the second half, 44-37.  The Vikings then attacked the basket and the lead grew to 10, 48-38.

Bertie doubled-up the scoring the rest of the way, eight-to-four, with another spurt and trailed, 52-46, as the final eight minutes were ready to be played.

The Falcons made six straight at the free throw line thanks to drawing Plymouth fouls and it was suddenly a one-point game, 56-55, Plymouth.

But the Vikings just put the ball in McCray’s hands and left it there. He scored four straight free throws and built the lead to, 60-55. Williams and Malcolm Cherry hit a pair of free throws apiece and made it a one-point game again.

That’s when the spurts-bucket dried up. McCray kept the ball and with his late heroics, Plymouth kept the lead – all the way to the title tilt.

“He’s a committed player,” said Bertie coach Robert Jones, shaking his head in describing McCray.  “I tried throwing several different defenses at him late in the game and in the end he made some big shots.

“I try to teach my team that you have to endure,” he added. “and they just had one more spurt than we had.

Bertie met Gates County in Wednesday’s Consolation Game.