CALYPSO - Coming off buzzer-beating losses, North Duplin eagerly awaited another opportunity to step onto the basketball court.
A hard-nosed work ethic and confidence from those two defeats carried over into their meeting against Rosewood on Friday.
The Carolina 1A rivals staged a nail-biting affair for two quarters.
“I thought we played mighty hard tonight, down just three at halftime,” said ND head coach Ricky Edwards. “They hit some threes and if they don’t hit those, we’re up at halftime. I was really pleased with our effort.”
The third quarter?
A different story.
Rosewood created offense out of its 3-2 zone defense and cruised to a 62-47 victory. The Eagles extended their win streak to 10 over the Rebels and have won 26 of 28 meetings since Nov. 2006.
“You could tell we hadn’t played in a while, had some time off,” said Eagles head coach Daniel Mitchell, whose team took a 10-day pause due to COVID contact tracing.
“Give North Duplin a lot of credit. They made some shots in the first half and we looked like we were in a hurry. [We] didn’t have much composure with the ball on offense, but I thought we settled down in the third quarter.”
The Eagles opened the third quarter with a 12-2 run and never relinquished their advantage. Mitchell’s defensive change led to 10 points off turnovers.
“We were able to get some easy baskets…were unselfish with how we found some guys [open] underneath the basket,” Mitchell said.
Cole Beavers’ free throw and Eli Morrisey’s steal and layup trimmed the deficit to 49-40 with 5:20 left in regulation.
Rosewood answered with a 7-2 run before Dujuan Armwood drained a 3-pointer in transition. Armwood finished with 15 points for the Rebels, who could get no closer on the scoreboard.
Morrisey, Beavers and Christian Powell pumped in seven points apiece for North Duplin.
Roderick Benjamin and Seth Bogue collected 19 and 11 points for the Eagles, who remained unbeaten in two outings this season.