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WHITEVILLE—Positioning for the upcoming Class 2A state high school boys’ basketball playoffs was on the line at Friday’s South Brunswick-Whiteville game.
The winner earned a home game as the No. 2 seed from the Waccamaw 1A/2A Conference while the loser will travel as a No. 3 seed.
Barring any huge upsets in this week’s conference tournament at East Columbus, the Cougars secured a probable home date in the state playoffs, using an 18-5 second quarter advantage to post a 44-31 victory.
South Brunswick’s second quarter outburst got a quick start as A.J. Ferguson scored the first four points of the period.
Ferguson missed his chance for a three-point play, but senior Ryan Waldrep was there for the putback and was fouled in the process. He made his free throw to give the Cougars a 15-6 lead.
“This game was very important,” said Cougar coach Dan McGougan. “It was nice to lead throughout. Our defense really played well.”
The coaching staff already is zeroed in on possible postseason opponents.
“It should give us a two seed,” McGougan said, “and a home game (Tuesday, Feb. 26).” The opponent would be the No. 3 seed from the Southeastern Conference (possibly Fairmont).
A loss could have sent the Cougars (7-5 conference, 15-9 overall) on a long road trip to face the Northeastern Conference No. 2 seed. Now, Whiteville’s Wolfpack get that honor.
Even with a 26-14 halftime lead, things weren’t as easy as they looked for the Cougars.
The Wolfpack (5-7 conference, 10-12 overall) scored the first six points to open the second half and cut the lead to six points.
The Cougars did not get their first points of the second half until 3:35 remained in the third period. They led 35-25 after three quarters.
South Brunswick had another scoring drought, this time going nearly four minutes before its first points of the fourth quarter. But the Cougars made 5 of 7 free throws in the last 1:35 to seal the win.
At the outset of both the third and fourth quarters, Whiteville’s pressure got to the Cougars.
“I called a timeout one time and told them to throw over it,” McGougan said of the Wolfpack’s trapping defense. “It got us a couple of layups.”
Ervin Hall led the Cougars with 12 points with Waldrep getting 11 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Edward McNeil has seven assists to go along with his six points.
Sprandon Mahoney led Whiteville with eight points with Aaron Clark getting six.
S. Brun. 8 18 9 9—44
W’ville 6 8 11 6—31
South Brunswick scoring: McNeil 6, Miller 4, Hall 12, Hines 2, Ferguson 6, Stanley 2, Waldrep 11.
Whiteville scoring: Livingston 3, Clark 6, Godfrey 2, Mahoney 8, Abdullah 4, South 5, McCullon 3.
JOE ARACE is the sports clerk at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at email@example.com