NCC Tournament: First Flight, NHS and Bertie advance
Monday, February 13, 2017
BARCO — Lavernon Randall got the ball last for a chance to keep his high school basketball career alive.
The Edenton senior got an uncontested look at a 3-pointer, however, it fell short at the buzzer to finish the Aces’ season with a one-point loss Monday.
In a season filled with near misses, the Aces ended it with a 51-50 result to First Flight in the first quarterfinal game of the Northeastern Coastal Conference tournament.
The Aces (7-15), the league’s No. 6 seed, had to win the tournament to earn a berth into the 2A state playoffs.
“I definitely wanted the ball in Lavernon’s hands,” Edenton coach Robert Woodley said. “And then Chad (Williams, First Flight coach) went to zone, and we weren’t getting any movement, so I got (James) Cofield to set a screen for him, and that’s what he did. I thought it was in.”
The third-seeded Nighthawks, who will get an at-large postseason invite, face No. 2 Northeastern on Wednesday at Hertford County in the semifinals.
The Eagles handled Pasquotank 73-44 for the second time in the past four days.
In the nightcap, No. 5 seed Bertie stunned quarterfinal host and fourth seed Currituck 47-43 in overtime. That puts the Falcons taking on No. 1 Hertford County.
For Monday’s first contest, the early 4:30 p.m. start took both the Aces and Nighthawks a while to adjust. First Flight was also without point guard John King, who was out after an injury suffered in a double overtime loss to Currituck last Friday.
“He’s (King) a distributor, but I think they’re still pretty good without him,” Woodley said. “I like to think they got 51 points was us playing fairly decent on them.”
That’s compared to 82 and 92 the Nighthawks hung on Edenton in their two regular season victories. In the first meeting alone the Kill Devil Hills school, known for a bevy of outside shooters, posted 19 makes from behind the 3-point line.
Randall gave the Aces their first second half lead at 39-37 just before the final eight minutes of play.
Woodley opted to begin the fourth to stall for nearly two and a half minutes as Edenton trailed 42-41 to give his team some rest.
The Nighthawks (17-8) were happy, too, for the slowdown.
“We were tired, so I was glad to sit in the zone for a few minutes,” Williams said. “We’ve (him and Woodley) done it to each other at times in our career, and it’s usually me holding it.”
Once the pace quickened, the Aces went 1-for-2 on back-to-back trips to the free throw line, the second for a 49-all score.
First Flight’s Cole Basnight put in the game’s final basket for the go-ahead with 1:10 to go, and then teammate Dylan Blake later missed the front end of 1-and-1 with 11 seconds remaining.
That gave Edenton some life, and Randall a chance for one more game in an Aces uniform.
“It felt good but it was off,” said the Edenton guard.
Woodley made sure to pull aside the senior and thank him for the effort all season.
“He (Randall) took it pretty hard,” Woodley said. “Lavernon is a gamer and a fighter and has played a lot of minutes.”
From multiple overtime losses, a late start because of football’s run to the 2A state championship game, weather delays and even illness keeping Woodley from coaching four games, the Aces struggled to gain some normalcy.
However, Woodley is recharged by players returning and a JV group that won the NCC with an 18-0 record.
“I’m excited and the fire is burning,” said Woodley after his first year leading the Aces since the 1990s.