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Northeastern boys repeat

AHOSKIE – Prolific, proficient, and perceptive….choose from among those adjectives to describe the varsity boys basketball team representing Northeastern High School.

And add to that a smothering defense and all ingredients are present to field an excellent team.

The Eagles were excellent once again in the 2016 Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic, winning three games (all by 20 or more points) en route to successfully defending their tournament title.

In Thursday night’s finale, four of Northeastern’s five starters scored in double figures (the fifth nearly joined his comrades by tallying 9 points) as the Eagles defeated Gates County High School, 83-63, to repeat as the Holiday Classic champions.

Damar Sutton led the way with a game-high 20 points. He was joined in double digits by Tyleik Overton (17), Clifford Shaw (14), and Brian Jones (11). That foursome were all members of the All-Tournament team with Shaw claiming MVP honors.

While the 20-point final margin makes it appear that the Eagles were never seriously challenged, the Red Barons, although outmanned by the larger school from Elizabeth City, did make things interesting at the start and close of the third quarter.

Trailing by 10 (41-31) at halftime, Gates County scored nine of the first 12 points of the third quarter and got as close as four (44-40) at the 5:16 mark of the period. All-Tournament selection Dontrell Watford tallied six of his team-high 15 points during that offensive spurt.

But the Eagles had just too much offensive balance, plus that smothering, trapping defense. Northeastern promptly reeled off 14 of the game’s ensuing 16 points – highlighted by a three-pointer each from Shaw, Jones and Jeromy Bailey Jr. – and raced out to a 58-42 advantage. One-half of that 16-point barrage came after the Eagles defense forced Gates County turnovers.

The Red Barons could muster only one more serious challenge as GCHS, led by a pair of baskets from Davion Holley and one by Adrian Hughes, closed the period on a 9-2 run and a 60-51 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.

Another trifecta from Shaw plus a deuce and two free throws each by Sutton and Overton lit the fuse on Northeastern’s potent offense over the opening three minutes of the final period of action where the Eagles raced out to a 72-56 lead.

After a bucket from Watford interrupted that surge, the Eagles were off and running again, this time reeling off 11 unanswered points – led by a deuce and trey from Garfield Brown – to build their largest lead of the game at 25 points (83-58) with under two minutes remaining.

Despite suffering eight turnovers over the opening eight minutes of play, Gates County shot the ball extremely well out of the gate, connecting on 7-of-10 shots from the field to forge a 16-16 stalemate at the end of the first quarter. Watford’s pair of baskets and a free throw, plus two hoops from All-Tournament selection Robert Walker led that effort.

The two teams stood deadlocked again at 23-23 at the 5:06 mark of the second quarter after Gates County’s Jawaun Riddick buried a three from the right wing followed by a deuce from Holley.

GCHS kept it close, using Walker’s trifecta to only trail by three (32-29) with less than 90 seconds left until halftime. But Northeastern answered with a trey of their own as Sutton hit from long range, sparking a 9-2 run to close the period and a 41-31 lead at the break.

Northeastern (83)

Damar Sutton – 20, Tyleik Overton – 17, Clifford Shaw – 14, Brian Jones – 12, Garfield Brown – 9, Jeromy Bailey Jr. – 6, William Riddick Jr. – 4, Traveon Freshwater – 1.

Gates County (63)

Dontrell Watford – 15, Davion Holley – 13, Robert Walker – 13, Jawaun Riddick – 10, Kevonte Leary – 5, Adrian Hughes – 4, William Leary – 2, Cassius Gary – 1.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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