Bears claim ‘Classic

Published 1:55 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2012

AHOSKIE – Charles Simmons preaches winning at home.

The Hertford County High School boys basketball coach has done quite a lot in his future Hall of Fame career, having captured more than 500 victories at Ahoskie High School and Hertford County High.

Last week, his team had the opportunity to both add to their coach’s win total and protect their home court in the finals of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty.

The Bears did just that as they won a hard-fought championship game 50-46 over visiting Plymouth High School to capture their fourth consecutive Classic championship.

“Our shots weren’t falling in the first half,” Simmons said. “We came out in the third quarter and showed a lot of heart. We were more patient on offense and taking the ball to the basket.

“We made the surge in the third quarter and I believe that showed our determination to win,” he added. “It was another great win in this tournament for our seniors and our program.”

Tournament MVP Shabazz Atkins shared scoring honors with All-Tournament selection Jarrett Sexton for the Bears with each scoring 10 points. Carl McCray, also an All-Tournament choice, led the Vikings with 19.

The Bears came out with the first two shots of the contest – back-to-back hoops by Sexton and Atkins – as they took a 4-0 lead.

Plymouth responded, however, by going on a 7-2 tear that gave them the advantage. McCray, Kendrick Pitt and Stephawn Leserne all had scores for the Vikings and McCray added a free throw.

Sexton scored for the Bears to put the home team in front 8-7, but a McCray free throw and a bucket by Devonte Spruill put Plymouth ahead 10-8 after one quarter.

The Bears stopped the surge in the second period when Jquwan Ruffin and Willie Bass hit successive shots, but a Pitt free throw and a McCray triple put the Vikings right back in front (14-12).

The teams went back-and-forth over the next few minutes before Leserne sparked a 6-0 run for the Vikings that gave them a 28-21 lead. Only a Wayne Simmons hoop before the half allowed the Bears to trail by just five at the intermission.

Plymouth pushed the lead out to 31-25 over the opening minutes of the third quarter, but then HCHS started to exert control.

Beale scored a hoop that sparked an 11-0 run. Ruffin had a pair of hoops before Dwight Vaughan scored and Simmons drilled a three-pointer that gave the Bears a 36-31 edge.

They held that same five-point edge (40-35) after the third quarter ended.

Plymouth closed the gap to one (40-39) thanks to a free throw from McCray and a three-point play by Pitt, but the Bears came right back. Ruffin scored from the floor and then Atkins completed a three-point play to give the Bears a 45-39 edge.

The closest the Vikings would get was four on an Adrian Moore bucket late in the game, but Beale had a field goal and a free throw to all but seal the win.

Shawn Holloway hit a three-pointer as the game ended to make it a four-point win for the Bears (10-2).

In addition to those in double digits, Beale had nine for HCHs while Ruffin had eight. Simmons chipped in seven and Vaughan had four. Bass had two points.

Joining Atkins, Sexton and McCray on the All-Tournament team were Ruffin, Simmons and Beale along with Spruill from Plymouth. Rounding out the team were Brett Forbes (Camden), Kenny Graham (Northampton-East), Dre’Shawn Morris (Bertie) and Jermel Williams (Gates Co.).

After the tournament, Ruffin was named the Charles E. Simmons Scholarship Award winner as Most Outstanding Male Player in the tournament.  That scholarship was made possible by a donation from Mizelle Discount Drugs.