Comebacks were the theme at the Eastern Plains 2A Conference basketball tournament championships held at Beddingfield High School on Friday night.
In the girls’ game, No. 1 seed SouthWest Edgecombe trailed by 13 to No. 3 Farmville Central with 3:13 left in the third quarter. The Cougars, however, cranked up the full-court pressure and flipped the switch on their offense en route to a 47-43 victory.
In the nightcap, regular-season co-champion Beddingfield got out to a five-point advantage midway through the third quarter against No. 3 North Pitt in a contest that saw 13 lead changes.
But the Panthers went on a 14-4 run to begin the final period in a 68-66 triumph.
SWE senior guard Tia Farmer grimaced as she held her right arm, which had a large red patch of floor burn minutes after she led the Cougars to victory with 10 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals.
It was the point guard’s layup via a drive into the lane against three defenders with 3:11 left in the game that put SouthWest up for good at 40-39.
“Never seen so many of them get on the floor,” Langley said. “They got after it. Got bruised. Got floor burn. They gave everything they had. It was championship play.”
And SWE needed to.
The Cougars (18-4) missed numerous easy layups inside that should have put the team in control. Instead, they needed the boost of the full-court pressure defense that forced 14 of Farmville Central’s 23 turnovers in the final two quarters.
“Defense,” Farmer said. “Our defense always wins games for us. We needed it, and it created offense for us.”
Shooting guard Teliyah Owens added 14 points.
The Jaguars (17-5) seized their 33-20 lead in the third by forcing turnovers themselves. But the wheels simply came off late.
“We turned the ball over. We were careless,” Farmville coach Hollis Harper said. “They took care of the ball. We didn’t.”
Farmville was led by Kayla Barrett’s 10 points, while Qynesha Pettiway had eight points and 15 rebounds.
The Bruins (16-9) entered the fourth quarter up 48-46, but North Pitt’s Deonte Person buried a 3-pointer with 6:06 on the clock to put the Panthers (18-9) up one.
The teams traded baskets before Person sank another long-range bomb with exactly five minutes left to key the spurt that allowed NP to take its largest lead at 60-52 with 2:51 to go.
North Pitt coach Mark Parson implored his defense to make the run happen.
“We had zero fouls in the third quarter as a team, and that’s not North Pitt basketball,” Person said. “I told them ‘You will be active and go after them on defense.’ And it led to us getting many transition baskets.”
The run was stopped by a layup by Beddingfield’s Noah Ivery with 2:37 to go. That bucket was the first by the Bruins’ big three – Ivery, Kenny Sims and Madeus Knight – who had scored all of their points entering the final period.
North Pitt then turned it over, and Ivery dunked the ball off a feed from Sims. Eventually, the Beddingfield press forced three more timeouts and Sims’ bucket with 36 seconds left tied the game at 64.
However, a press break led to two free throws by the Panthers’ Devonte Pettaway (23 points). After a miss on the other end, North Pitt got a basket from Zaquarius Sherrod-Wilson to push the lead to four.
Ivery got the last of his 27 points with .5 seconds left and North Pitt in-bounded the ball to end the game.
“Our emotions got the best of us,” Beddingfield head coach Joey Dvozenja said. “We are so emotional and you saw it, we were down six with a minute to go and tied it up. But then we miss a shot and go into panic mode. We did that too much.”
Sims had 21 points and Knight 12.