The Kinston girls basketball team has a pair of experienced and talented 5-foot-8 senior guards in Jada Faison and Malaysia Lancaster that have been terrifying opposing defenses in the state for much of the past few years.
The Vikings brought their potent tandem to the Cleveland Classic Basketball Tournament to cap off its year and the duo did not disappoint, leading Kinston all the way to the title with a convincing 70-36 victory over host Cleveland.
Kinston (8-1), runners up in the 2A NCHSAA state playoffs from a year ago, put together a dominant performance in the first half that saw the Rams (10-2) trail by 30 points by the break.
“I thought they played the best first half of basketball that they have played all year,” Kinston coach Chris Bradshaw said.
With Faison and Lancaster able to beat their defenders off the dribble and finish at the basket at will. Cleveland was not able to counter on the other end as a suffocating Vikings halfcourt defense prevented the Rams’ talented post players from getting many good looks.
“The first quarter, we kind of took our own selves out of it,” said Cleveland coach Chris Danehower. “They were doing a really good job at getting up to deny us and not let us run our stuff.”
Before the Rams scored their first basket at the 4:26 mark of the first quarter, the Vikings already led 13-1 and were off and running to a 24-point outburst to take firm control of the game by the end of the opening period. When asked what worked for his team that quarter, Bradshaw simply said, “Basically everything.”
They said it
“We’re got probably two of the best guards in the state playing together and they’re tough,” said Bradshaw. They play both sides of the basketball—offense and defense.”
Three who mattered
Malaysia Lancaster, Kinston: Lancaster was 3-of-3 from behind three-point range for the Vikings and led all scorers with 21 points.
Jada Faison, Kinston: Faison had nine points in the first quarter alone to help Kinston jump out to a huge 24-7 lead after the opening stanza. She finished with 17 points and seven rebounds and was named Co-MVP of the Classic along with Lancaster.
Tehya Lee, Cleveland: The Rams had a tough time getting good looks at the basket but Lee came off the bench to contribute 10 points to the Cleveland cause.
Kinston’s senior forward Jazlyn Grimes made life difficult for the Cleveland forwards as she also went for double figures with 12 points while pulling down nine rebounds.
Cleveland will look to bounce back as the Rams have an opportunity to match or exceed its 19-win output from a season ago with a good run through the Two Rivers 3A Conference.
“This can be something that we can learn from,” said Danehower. “At some point, you’ve got to get better so hopefully this will force us to take a better look at ourselves.”
By the Numbers
9: Points Cleveland was held to through the first two quarters of play.
36.3: Average points per game Kinston allowed to opposing teams in the tournament holding all three opponents to under 40 points.
104: Combined points scored by Kinston’s potent backcourt duo of Faison and Lancaster during the tournament.