GASTON, N.C. — For three quarters Brunswick was complete control heading into the final eight minutes with a 50-33 lead against Greensville County in the Dec. 28 third place game of the Northampton Christmas Tournament.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Eagles but it was not quite enough as the Bulldogs avenged a 64-61 Dec. 7 loss to Greensville (7-3) with a 61-58 win.
Greensville’s Jerome Mays was scoreless heading into the final eight minutes, but the junior connected on three buckets from the field and nailed a free throw to spur a 9-0 run to begin the fourth quarter to cut the Brunswick advantage to 50-42, with 3:17 left the game. Brunswick’s Jadan Firman scored six points down the stretch, including a 4-4 effort at the free throw line to keep his squad in front by more than a possession until Greensville’s Lezhan Peebles hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left on the clock.
For the entire second half of the previous night’s 73-70 loss to unbeaten Northwest Halifax, N.C. and the first three quarters against Greensville, Brunswick (7-2) was arguably the best team in the tournament. Brunswick coach Charreko Walker was relieved his squad hung on for the win. He believes the three games in Gaston will help his squad as it prepares to dive into the Tri-Rivers District slate.
“We played some good competition,” he said. “It was something to keep the kids busy over the break. Hopefully it helped keep us sharp as we get ready to get back into district play.”
Brunswick came out of the gates dominating the Eagles with an 11-0 run. A Jermonta James 3-pointer, with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter put Greensville County on the board, but his team would be chasing the Bulldogs the rest of the evening and come up short in the end. As he did in Emporia early last month, Brunswick’s Jadan Firman gave the Eagles fits finishing the night with 15 points and 11 rebounds. He had plenty of help in the paint from Trai’von Callis, 12 points, and Jordan Wesson, 10 points. Wesson came off the bench and buried three 3-point bombs and hit a free throw after getting fouled on one of his long-distance shots.
James led Greensville with 14 points. Zykeem Fields joined James in double-figures scoring with a dozen. Khalid Parker, 9 points, and Mays, 8 points were next in line on the scoring chart for the green and gold.
For Greensville County, the third place game was similar to its semifinal clash against eventual tournament champion Weldon the night before. The Eagles fell into an early hole and could never completely fill it.
“I liked the way we came back in the fourth quarter, assistant coach Troy Anderson said. “We started the game as if we had never played basketball before. You can’t do that against a good team like we did the last two nights. We came back and got within three, but we were just a little too late with the effort.”
Weldon 68, Greensville 58
A sluggish first half and Weldon outscoring Greensville by 29 points at the charity stripe was a little too much for the Eagles to overcome in Thursday’s semifinal loss to the Chargers.
“We were a little flat in the first half,” Anderson said. “We came back in the second half and got back into the game, but a couple of calls didn’t go our way.”
The foul disparity was 27-11 when the final buzzer sounded. More importantly, three Eagles, Zykeem Fields, James and Peebles were sitting helplessly on the bench having fouled out of the contest. The Chargers took full advantage of their opportunity at the stripe hitting 33 of 43 free throws. Jalen Lynch was perfect 13 of 13 on his way to a game-high 22 points.
Greensville all but erased its chances to win by missing the majority of its chances at the free throw line by connecting on only four of 14 attempts.
Greensville outscored Weldon 37-33 in the second half, but reeled the deficit any nearer than seven points. The Eagles whittled the deficit to seven points three times in the second half — the last following a James 3-pointer with 2:05 left in the game to leave Weldon’s advantage at 63-56. Any hopes of completing the comeback were dashed by the Chargers going 5-6 at the free throw line in the last two minutes the game.
“I told the guys I liked the way they kept fighting and never gave up,” Anderson said. “I commend them for that.”
There were moments early on that Greensville appeared to be headed for a good night. Jahlil Fields buried a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to open the contest. A Mays field goal with 6:20 left in the first quarter put Greensville in front 5-2, but Weldon outscored the Eagles 15-7 to take a 17-12 advantage after the first frame.
It did not get any better for the green and gold in the second quarter. In fact it got worse as the Chargers extended man-to-man defense smothered Greensville’s offense and extended the margin to 14 points, 35-21 as the teams headed to the halftime locker room.
Greensville did not fold under the barrage of heavy Weldon pressure, but the Eagles could not quite get over the hump in their second-half effort to catch the Chargers. Zykeem Fields led a balanced Greensville offense with 14 points. Jahlil Fields, 13 and Parker, 12, also netted double-figure scoring totals. Peebles scored nine points.
Joining Lynch in double-figures for the Chargers were Jaheem Parker, 12, Kajah Barner, 11, and Michael Vincent, 10. Weldon improved to 3-0 with the victory.
Greensville 66, Pasquotank 49
James put his team on his back offensively with 26 points over the final 24 minutes of the game as Greensville won its Northampton Christmas Tournament to finish with a game-high 28. Peebles, 14 points and Zykeem Fields, 13 points, also netted double-figures. Chris Hinman paced the Pasquotank offense with 16 points. Jataevion Sawyer netted 13.
The Eagles led 10-9 after one quarter of play and outscored the Panthers in every frame. Greensville led 24-17 at the half and 43-30 after three quarters of play.
Editor’s note — Weldon defeated Northwest Halifax 75-60 in the Northampton Christmas Tournament championship game.