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LELAND—North Brunswick found itself in the driver's seat for the Waccamaw 2A/3A Conference regular-season crown when cross-county rival South Brunswick entered Leland for a Feb. 6 contest. North staved off several Cougar rallies, surviving a 59-48 victory against a South squad still searching for its first win in league play.
After three quarters, the heavily-favored Scorpions (13-7, 7-2) held an uncomfortable eight-point advantage, 43-35. That's when North Brunswick guards Nic Sloan and Terrence Brown took matters into their own hands. Sloan and Brown were the only players to score for the first-place Scorps during the fourth period as the duo combined for 16 points in the frame, carrying the home team to an 11-point win.
South climbed to within seven with just under seven minutes remaining, but Sloan and Brown were too much. Brown and Sloan scored five quick points—three from the foul line—giving North some breathing room against the resilient Cougars, who erased a 10-point deficit in the third quarter. Brown made a short jumper and moments later drained a 3 to give the Scorpions their biggest lead of the contest, 55-40.
The victory put the Scorpions in a tie with South Columbus for first place in the conference. North, which knocked off the Stallions earlier this season in double overtime, tentatively own the tiebreaker if both teams finish the campaign with identical league records. The two schools will meet again Feb. 15, the final day of the regular season.
Although South Brunswick dropped to 0-10 in the conference and 3-17 overall, the game did not resemble a clash of one of the area's top teams pitted against a last-place team that was playing its second game in as many nights. Early in the first quarter, it looked as if North may hand South a lopsided defeat for the second time this season.
The Scorpions’ size and athleticism gave South fits during the opening minutes as North's full-court trapping defense forced several Cougar turnovers. North turned the South miscues into instant offense as it raced out to an 8-2 lead. The Cougars did not let the lead balloon as it had against their rivals in the team’s first tilt. South stayed within striking distance throughout the first quarter and trailed by one with less than a minute left in the stanza. Khalin Clemmons buried a 3 with 30 seconds in the frame to give South its first lead. The first ended with the visitors leading by two, 14-12.
North Brunswick went stone cold while South enjoyed its lead at the end of the first and into the second quarter. Following Jaeden Phillip's basket with just under three minutes left in the first, North did not register a point until Adam Jacobs made a free throw with 4 minutes, 41 seconds left in the half, a six-minute scoreless span that allowed the Cougars to take a 15-13 lead. The edge was short-lived, however, as the Scorpions went on a 12-2 surge to take a 10-point lead. South Brunswick’s Monjharvis Walls scored before intermission and South trailed by eight at the break.
Walls, a senior point guard, solved North’s defensive pressure most of the night and powered South during an impressive third-quarter rally. Walls made consecutive baskets to cap an 8-0 run and tie the game, 27-27. The Scorpions broke the tie when Brandon Weaver finished an old-fashion three-point play, but South's Blaine Tucker answered with a deep 3 to knot the score at 30-all.
The surge prompted North Brunswick head coach Brian Hayes to bench several starters for significant minutes at a critical stage of the game. The move worked brilliantly, thanks in large part to J.J. Batts and Brandon Weaver, who scored eight quick points for North as the Scorpions built the lead back to six. Brown and Sloan took care of the rest.
Walls finished with a game-high 23 points. He was the only Cougar to reach double figures. James Prince netted eight and Tucker and junior Andre Moore chipped in six each. Clemmons had three and Caleb Stanley had two for South.
The backcourt carried the load for North Brunswick, which finished the regular season 2-2 against its Brunswick county rivals. Sloan had a team-high 17 points, seven coming in the fourth quarter. Brown scored 15 while Jacobs poured in 12. Weaver (six), Phillips (four) and Mitch Layton (two) were other scorers for the Scorpions.
At the end of the night, North was still in control of its own destiny. It just wasn’t easy.