|Winners crowned in NEW-6
|ROCKY MOUNT - Nash Central High was the site of the second NEW 6 Basketball Tournament and the Bulldogs were hoping to celebrate before the home folks in the finals last Friday.
But Rocky Mount put a dent in those plans. And on Friday, RMHS' hopes of repeating as champion were also doused.
No. 2-seeded Wilson Fike's boys and top-seeded SouthWest Edgecombe's girls prevailed as champions in the finals.
Fike spanked the Gryphons 65-51 to take the title, while the Lady Cougars endured a physical contest with Rocky Mount, the No. 2 seed, to come out on top 62-48 to repeat as champions. The Golden Demons got a serious run from Southern Nash before disposing of the Firebirds 73-61 in their semifinal game Wednesday.
Nash Central (21-3), the boys regular season champion, hadn't lost a game since Dec. 19 (at home to Wilson Hunt) when the Gryphons pulled off the upset Wednesday evening, 63-58.
The Gryphons went into survival mode to start the week. With their state playoff chances sitting in the iffy position when the week started, they moved a step closer to a playoff berth with their biggest win of the season.
Rocky Mount overcame a horrid start with the Bulldogs, however. With only one field goal on their side of the scorebook, the Gryphons found themselves down 22-7 in the early moments of the second period.
Then they got the spark they needed. They went on a 15-0 run -- ending with a rare Tashawn Mabry 3-pointer (just the third of his 25-game career) to tie the scire at 22-all with 3:01 left in the half.
Rocky Mount took a 28-25 lead into the locker room.
"After that first quarter, I thought they were going to throw in the towel, said Rocky Mount head coach Mike Gainey. "But they just hung in there and Charles Penny came in and gave us a spark and got us going and they realized that they could play with this group."
Mabry, who scored 21 points on the night, got the Gryphs going on a good note to start the second half -- scoring five straight points for RM as it took a 33-28 lead.
Nash Central managed to tie the score at 43-all on a Michael Speight basket to open the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs could never put back-to-back buckets together the rest of the game.
Meanwhile, RM's Montrell Battle got open for baskets inside continually down the stretch.
The Gryphon sophomore tied his career-high with 24 points, 14 coming in the fourth period. He also pulled down six rebounds. Rocky Mount junior forward Nick Hutcheson also came up with a career night. He had eight points, seven rebounds and six assists -- part of a 20-assist night for the team.
Trey Sumler led four Nash Central players in double figures with 18 points, followed by Michael Speight with 13.
The Lady Bulldogs ran into troubles in their tourney opener with Southern Nash on Tuesday. Nash Central fell 44-38 to the Ladybirds thanks to 19 points from Alyse Hall. Southern would go down in a physical affair in Thursday's semifinals to SouthWest 61-36.
Both Northern Nash squads fell in opening-round contests.
Nikki Battle scored 22 points, but it wasn't enough to fend off Fike Tuesday 52-44. The Knights, in their opener Monday, had to play without center Stephen Baker (academic problems) and yet led No. 3 Southern Nash decisively at halftime -- 29-11.
Southern adjusted and roared back for a 61-51 win. A 16-0 run to start the second half did the trick for the Firebirds. Marcus Howard led Southern with a tournament-high 29 points.
Here are the All-Tournament teams as selected by the media:
Jeremy Atkinson, Fike (MVP)
Bobby Bynum, Fike
Stepfernia Pitt, Fike
Tashawn Mabry, Rocky Mount
Alonzo Sharpe, Rocky Mount
Montrell Battle, Rocky Mount
Marcus Howard, Southern Nash
Trey Sumler, Nash Central
Monique Williams, SW Edgecombe (MVP)
Ebonee Braswell, SW Edgecombe
Monique Hudson, SW Edgecombe
Stephanie Allen, Rocky Mount
Dyonna Battle, Rocky Mount
Danita Whitaker, Rocky Mount
Nikki Battle, Northern Nash
Barksdale Thompson, Wilson Fike