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Bears roar back

AHOSKIE – Hertford County has been a second half team many times this season.

That was the case again Friday night when the Bears rallied from a halftime deficit to dispatch Pasquotank County High School 77-60.

“We came out sluggishly in the first half,” Bears’ basketball boss Charles Simmons said. “We did a better job with our intensity in the second half by getting after them defensively.

“We got our transition game going, which allowed us to get easy baskets,” he added. “Overall, it was a good conference win.”

Trailing by two (35-33) as the third quarter began, Hertford County came to life.

Jquwan Ruffin and Shabazz Atkins hit back-to-back shots to put the Bears in front.

The Panthers came back with a Jaquan Respass free throw and Naquan Gant three-pointer, but Jarrett Sexton had four of his six point on back-to-back baskets that pushed the Bears in front 41-39.

James Martin scored from behind the arc for Pasquotank, but it was the last lead the visiting team would taste.

Brian Beale hit a field goal that sparked a 6-0 run for the Bears. He was followed by a Dwight Vaughan triple and a free throw from Maurice Earley as the Bears surged ahead 47-42.

Kyle Odum scored from behind the arc for the Panthers, but two free throws from Willie Bass and a Ruffin bucket gave HCHS a 51-45 lead after three quarters.

Gant scored a three and Leon Walston a two to start the fourth quarter, drawing Pasquotank within one (51-50), but the Bears again took control.

A three-pointer by Wayne Simmons was followed by a pair of three-point plays – one each from Beale and Atkins) as HCHS pulled away to a 59-50 lead.

Darron White responded with a bucket and free throw for the Panthers, but Ruffin scored four straight as the Bears grabbed a 63-53 edge.

They added to that double-digit lead over the next minute as Atkins and Beale each hit 1-of-2 from the line before Ruffin scored again from the floor. A Simmons free throw made it 68-53 with 4:10 remaining in the contest.

From there, the Bears held on to that lead and even added to it as they pulled away for their fourth straight league win.

Atkins led the Bears in scoring with 22 points while Beale and Ruffin scored 13 each. Simmons was also in double figures with 10. Vaughan added eight and Sexton six.

Gant paced Pasquotank with 19 while Odum had 14.

The win boosted HCHS to 11-3 for the season and 4-0 in the Northeastern Coastal Conference.