Gryphons win at Jacksonville High
By Charles Alston, Graphic Correspondent
JACKSONVILLE - Rocky Mount's Tashawn Mabry may be a freshman, grade-wise, but he's far from being a ninth-grader on the hardwood.
The 6-foot-5 forward had one of his best games of the season Monday night. It was a perfect time for his performance considering it was an NCHSAA 3-A state playoff opener -- on the road, no less.
His efforts netted the Gryphons a solid 71-58 win over Jacksonville, the No. 1 3-A seed from the Mideastern 3-A/4-A Conference. Mabry scored 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds, blocked six shots and doled out five assists.
The victory sends Rocky Mount (14-13), a wildcard entry into the playoffs, back on the road Wednesday for another 100-plus mile trip -- this time to the familiar confines of the gym at Havelock High.
Havelock, which was a member with Rocky Mount in the Big East 4-A Conference for four years, topped Beddingfield 77-73 Monday to make it to Round Two.
Rocky Mount, hoping to make its second straight trip to the Eastern Regionals, closed the first period tied at 13-all with the Cardinals. A key spurt by the Gryphons in the second period allowed RMHS to grab a 30-21 lead at the half.
The Cardinals (15-12) narrowed the lead to 41-38 late in the third quarter. But Mabry quietly took over -- propelling the team to a 48-39 lead going into the fourth.
For the second time in the postseason, junior Nick Hutcheson stepped up his game. The light-scoring forward came up with a career scoring night -- popping in 14 points along with leading the team with eight rebounds. Hutcheson even scored on a dunk late in the contest.
Sophomore forward Montrell Battle scored 11 points, while RMHS point guard Alonzo Sharpe added 10. B.J. Middleton led Jacksonville with 17.
While Rocky Mount, Nash Central and Wilson Fike picked up wins Monday, it wasn't a good night for NEW 6 members Southern Nash and SouthWest Edgecombe.
The Firebirds' season ended as it fell 69-64 at Southern Lee, while SouthWest was a 57-41 victim at Bertie.
Wilson Fike won 70-54 over South Johnston.
The Class 3-A State Playoffs will continue today with games for Nash County participants Nash Central and Rocky Mount. Nash Central won Monday at home against Western Harnett (see page 9 for more details of that game).
In girls postseason basketball action, Southern Nash, Nash Central and Rocky Mount competed in the first round Tuesday night, with second-round matchups scheduled for Thursday.