Trojans fall late in MEC title game

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By Sarah Sue Ingram, Beacon Correspondent



BOLIVIA — West Brunswick excelled in hand-to-hand combat, but New Hanover used long-range missiles to win the Mideastern 3A/4A Conference championship tournament 62-55 Friday night, Feb. 21.

The Trojans outscored the Wildcats in every quarter except one — the third, when New Hanover hit five 3-pointers for a cushion that would carry them to victory in the tourney, sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance.

Still, West fought back in the fourth quarter and twice cut New Hanover’s lead to four points, the last time at 48-44 with 5:58 left.

But the Wildcats, unbeaten in the league in regular-season and tournament play, hit another triple with 4:46 left to go up by seven points, which would turn out to be the final margin.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for coach (Eric) Davis — that’s the hardest-playing team I’ve seen all year,” New Hanover coach Kirk Angel said.

The win in the Dinah Gore Fitness & Aquatics Center gymnasium was the 16th in a row for New Hanover, a 4A school that has a 23-2 record overall. The Wildcats haven’t lost since defeats to East Carteret, which has a 24-0 record, and Miami Central of Florida, both in a Christmas tournament.

West Brunswick, a 3A school, finished league runner-up in both the regular season and the tournament. The Trojans are 17-7 overall, with three of those losses to New Hanover.

West opened the game on fire with Saadiq Johnson scoring the first three baskets for the Trojans, who took a 14-8 lead on O.J. Hill’s free throws.

But New Hanover’s mighty mite point guard Shawn Robinson scored the last five points of the quarter to trim West’s lead to 14-13.

The lead changed hands three times in the second period, including one change on Zarie Hankins’ 3-pointer, and the Trojans went into the locker room ahead 26-23 after Tyquan Hill slipped in the back door for a basket.

At halftime, Angel told his team to attack the rim more and to tighten its defensive pressure by collapsing on any Trojan driving the paint.

West led 30-28 with 6:56 left in the third quarter, but the Trojans would not score again for the next 3 minutes and 41 seconds. Yet, they were behind only 36-32 with 3:15 left in the quarter.

“We told them at halftime New Hanover would make a run in the third quarter and we needed to hold that run to four or six points,” Davis said.

Hill’s two free throws made it a 38-34 game with 2:07 left in the third, but New Hanover would score eight more points to end the quarter ahead 46-37.

Six of those eight points came on shots by Tyree Johnson, a left-hander who has a 91 mph fastball on the diamond, Angel said. On the hardwood, Johnson was throwing strikes from 3-point land, with three triples in the third quarter — two in the last 1:47 of the period.

“Tyree Johnson was huge,” Angel said. “He was MVP tonight.”

Davis agreed, “They hit some big 3s. Some were contested — hands up.”

The Trojan faithful, who had come out in full force and been so loud in the first half, got noticeably quiet in the second.

The long-range balls were not falling for the Trojans even though they had good looks.

“They forced us to jump-shoot the ball,” Davis said. “They played harder than anybody we’ve played this year.

“For us, Saadiq Johnson and Zarie Hankins played really well.”

Hankins sank two 3-pointers and Hill one for the Trojans.

The Wildcats hit eight triples — four by Tyree Johnson and two apiece by Ridell Camidge and Robinson.

West out-rebounded New Hanover 17-14 in the first half and 14-10 in the second. Tony Clarida blocked two shots. Gray Cheers and Jon Jordan each had a block for the Trojans.

Hankins finished with 14 points and five steals. Saadiq Johnson scored 12 points. Robinson led the Wildcats with 17 points. Camidge scored 16 and Tyree Johnson 14.

Angel said he thinks the Trojans should be a regional contender in the 3A state playoff bracket.

Davis said, “Our first goal was to win the 3A conference, and we did that, and our second goal was to win it all (the league tournament). That’s a tall order to do in this conference.”

Their third goal is to excel at regionals.

“This is my 18th year,” Davis said. “Every team is like a family, and most families have problems.

“We don’t have problems. When we lose, they don’t come to practice pouting about playing time or pouting about losing.”

 They just try to get better.

“I’m always pleased with our effort,” Davis said. “I truly love this group of kids.”


WB 14 12 11 18 — 55

NH  13 10 23 16 — 62

WB: Hankins 14, Johnson 12, O.J. Hill 9, Cheers 8, Antonio Clarida 5, Tyquan Hill 4, Shermonde Fulwood 2, Alex Clarida 1.

NH: Robinson 17, Camidge 16, Johnson 14, Lawrence Williams 6, Brad Hitchman 5, Nykheinma Walker 4.



Hoggard 50


BOLIVIA — West Brunswick lost 50-40 to Hoggard in a first-round game Feb. 18 of the Farm Bureau Insurance Mideastern Conference girls’ basketball tournament.

“We played a great game,” West coach Mark Jones said.

Hoggard had to struggle to beat West, which had lost to the Vikings three nights earlier 75-35.

West led 9-8 after the first quarter and trailed 20-17 at halftime.

“The game was 4 to 5 points until late in the third quarter,” Jones said. “They stole three in a row, and it was a 9- to 10-point cushion the rest of the way.”

For West, McKenzie Benton scored 13 points, sinking two 3-pointers and making seven of 12 free throws. She also made four steals.

Leilani Emile scored 13 points, making five of seven free throws. She also had nine rebounds.

Myyah Brown scored 8 points and had eight rebounds. Yana Bland scored 2 points, had three rebounds and three steals. Kaitlyn Bellamy scored 2 points and had two steals.

Hannah Pugh scored 2 points and had three rebounds. Bre Small had three rebounds and three steals.

“We are really proud of our young ladies,” Jones said. “They came to play.

Just three steals in a row got us. This is the closest we have been to any of the 4A Wilmington teams this season. I feel like we are making progress.”