Bears roar past Northeastern in tourney title game

Published 11:17 pm Friday, February 17, 2023

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AHOSKIE – Led by a game-high 24 points from senior Israel Powell, Hertford County placed four of its five starters in double figures here Friday night where the Bears routed Northeastern High School 79-39 in the championship game of the Northeastern Coastal Conference tournament.

Keveon Rodgers slams home two of his 15 points during Friday night’s rout of Northeastern High School in the conference tournament championship game played in Ahoskie. Photo by William Anthony

The win, the 21st of the season against just four losses, allowed Hertford County to sweep the league’s first-place hardware as the Bears also won the regular season title.

“I told the guys this week that I wanted them to treat tonight’s game like a state play-off game…win and advance or lose and go home,” said veteran HCHS head coach Charles Simmons following the contest. “We really got after Northeastern right from the opening tip. I was very pleased with the way we played on both ends of the floor.”

The Bears did indeed get off to a fast start. Tied at 2-2, HCHS went on a 14-0 run highlighted by a trey and a deuce from William Valentine and five points from Powell (a basket and three free throws). The swarming HCHS defense blanked Northeastern over a stretch of three minutes and 57 seconds while coming up with two steals that led to easy baskets in transition.

A basket from Ty’Quan Harney and a pair of Tyell Saunders free throws got the Eagles to within 18-6, but the Bears closed the period with a 6-2 spurt and built a 24-8 lead in the process.

That lead ballooned to 30 (41-11) over the opening four minutes of the second period. Valentine buried three long-range trifectas during that offensive burst while Shimere Garris, Jayden Robinson, and Keveon Rodgers added a basket each.

The Bears would eventually extend their lead to as many as 33 points, 48-15, when Powell drained a trey from the right wing inside the final 45 seconds of the first half.

HCHS led 48-17 at halftime.

The 33-point spread was matched three times in the third period: 55-22 on a basket by Valentine set up by a steal and assist from Rodgers; 58-25 thanks to a Rodgers bucket; and 61-26 when Powell connected again from beyond the three-point arc.

Powell and Garris tallied two baskets each to open the fourth quarter as the Bears continued to add to their already commanding lead. That advantage grew as high as 42 points (79-37) on a steal and slam by Rodgers.

“We’ve put together two really good halves of basketball tonight against one of the better teams in our conference,” said Simmons. “This win will give us momentum as we move into the state play-offs.”

The NCHSAA tournament opens Tuesday, Feb. 21. The brackets will be set this weekend.

Hertford County (79)

Israel Powell – 24, William Valentine – 16, Keveon Rodgers – 15, Shimere Garris – 14, Jayden Robinson – 6, Cameron Jenkins – 4

Northeastern (39)

Sayvion Saunders – 10, Jayden Alexander – 10, Tyell Saunders – 4, TyQuan Harney – 4, Ty’Joie Simpson – 3, Unique Blount – 2, EJ Sutton – 2, Xavier McNeal – 2, Z’Kobe Whidbee – 2

Hertford County High School’s varsity boys basketball team pose for a photo after receiving the first-place plaques for the Northeastern Coastal Conference regular season and tournament. The Bears (21-4 overall) open play this week in the NCHSAA Class 2A state tournament. Photo by William Anthony

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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