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The Brunswick County Coasters, competing in the 75-and-older age group, finished second in the recent North Carolina Senior Games basketball tournament.
The Coasters were one of two county teams in the state championship tournament, played Oct. 29-30 in Greenville at East Carolina University. The other team was the Force, who competed in the 65-69 age group.
The Coasters played three games in a four-team pool Oct. 29. All the games were scheduled with minimum time between as a cost-saving measure of completing the tournament in two days rather than three. A game consists of three-on-three teams played at half court with two 10-minute halves and two timeouts allowed per team per half. This resulted in the Coasters being scheduled for games at 8 a.m., 9:10 a.m. and 10:20 a.m. games. This was a real endurance test for any age group, let alone players 75 and older.
The Coasters won their first game by two points against the Fayetteville Falcons and played the Raleigh Vikings next. The Vikings had two 3-point specialists, but they were not hitting in this game. The Coasters prevailed with a seven-point victory. The Vikings scored a tournament record 11 3-pointers against the Pitt County Bulls in another game.
In their third game of the morning, the Coasters took on the home team, the Pitt County Bulls. This team was a concern due to their seven-man roster compared to the Coasters’ four-man team. The game was close throughout, but the Coasters hung on for a one-point victory.
After the first day of competition, the Coasters had a 3-0 record and the other teams were 1-2. At this point, the Coasters were the favorites to win the gold medal.
There was still one more day of competition and two games to play. In the Saturday opener, the Coasters polished off Fayetteville for a 10-point victory. This qualified the Brunswick County team for the championship game against Raleigh.
This time, the Raleigh players were hitting their 3-pointers, which gave them an early lead. They maintained the lead throughout the game and won 23-17.
This led the captain of the Fayetteville team to say, “Looks like we should have to play a third game to figure out a winner.” The Coasters’ John Twomey replied, “After five games in 26 hours, not anytime soon.”
The Force opened the tourney in a three-team pool. It encountered a tough opponent in its first game and lost by one point to the Fayetteville Hi Toppers. Next up were the 2009 gold-medal winners, the Fayetteville Finest squad. This game resulted in a lopsided loss for the Force and ended its tournament. Members of the Force were Dennis Berg, of St. James; Mike Dolan, of Winding River; Jim Dieudonne, of Holden Beach; and Randy Wrigley, of Supply.
By virtue of their silver medal, the Coasters are considering entering the nationals in Houston. Shallotte’s John Twomey has two brothers competing in other states (Virginia and Vermont) and they hooked up in 2007 in the Louisville nationals. Other Coasters were Murray Page, of Southport; Bill Davis, of Boiling Spring Lakes; and L. C. Beck, of New Bern.
The finals had 19 women’s teams and 52 men’s teams. This was a record number of participants in the North Carolina Senior Games.