The beat goes on for Kinston.
The Vikings won their 11th consecutive boys’ conference tournament championship by blowing past Goldsboro, 80-53, in the Eastern Carolina 2A tournament title game at South Lenoir High School Friday night.
Kinston (18-7), the second seed in the tournament, overcame a 23-19 first-half deficit to take a 43-33 halftime lead and a commanding 65-43 lead after three quarters.
“Our guys answered, and they answered in a big way,” Kinston coach Perry Tyndall said of the rally. “They took the ball, moved it well in transition and we had a lot of guys step up.”
Fifth-seeded Goldsboro (12-12), coming off Wednesday’s upset of previously undefeated and top-seed Greene Central in the tournament semifinals, struggled after its hot start, scoring only 30 points in the final three periods.
“We went cold and Kinston went hot,” Cougars coach Russell Stephens said. “We did not do a good job executing on offense. Defensively, they were playing Kinston basketball and we just couldn’t stop them from scoring.”
The Cougars were led by Jaryan Hargis’ 15 points; they’ll find out Saturday who they’ll play in the NCHSAA 2A playoffs, which begin Tuesday.
Despite Friday’s loss, Stephens said he feels his team is hitting its stride.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” he said. “I told our guys to not let this be our determining factor. We get to throw (the ball) up again next week, so we just need to regroup. Tonight was not our night so we have to get better for next week.”
Kinston was led by sophomore wing Damian Dunn’s 18 points; senior guard Chris Cratch was the only other Viking in double-figure scoring with 13 points – which included three 3s in the second half.
In all, 13 of the 16 players who suited up for Kinston scored in Friday’s victory.
The 11 consecutive conference tournament titles stretches back to 2007 when Kinston was a 3A program. The significance of the streak was not lost on Tyndall.
“It speaks to a lot of great players that have participated in this program,” Tyndall said. “These guys are now a part of that and I’m happy for them. … This is for everyone who has ever worn a Kinston uniform.”
GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP (Kinston 48, South Lenoir 41):
The Vikings started a clean sweep of the Eastern Carolina 2A championships by snapping South Lenoir’s 12-game winning streak – which included a 10-0 run in the EC2A’s regular season race and a tournament semifinal victory.
The score was knotted at 12-12 after one quarter but a 10-0 run to open the second frame gave the Vikings (17-9) a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. South Lenoir (20-5) tied the game at 29-29 early in the fourth quarter, but an 8-2 run sealed the victory and ninth straight conference tournament title for Kinston.
Anzaria Cobb led Kinston’s balanced scoring effort with 16 points, while the Blue Devils received 16 from Hunter West and 12 from Taniejah Mitchell.