Saints' stirring comeback falls short

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DUDLEY - Those fans who departed “The Halo” early Monday evening missed a barn-burner finish.

Takorrie Faison drained two free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining and Goldsboro fended off Southern Wayne’s fearless second-half comeback attempt, 63-59.

The Cougars earned their 19th win in the county series since 2007 and spoiled the debut of SW head coach Brian West.

An almost packed house watched the cross-county foes battle toe to toe during the opening eight minutes. Goldsboro (1-0 overall) found its stride in the transition game behind Faison, who delivered three thunderous house-rocking dunks, in the second quarter.

SW trailed 33-17 at the break.

“They beat us in that first half,” West said.

But the former Saints point guard noticed something particular about his team when it entered the locker room. There wasn’t an air of despair among the players. They were annoyed by their first-half performance.

“They knew they could play better basketball than that,” West said. “We knew we had to claw, fight and scratch to get our respect. I think the guys earned their respect tonight.”

Goldsboro opened the second half with an old-fashioned, three-point play and eventually extended its margin to 20 points.

Southern Wayne kept its composure, converted key possessions and sawed the double-digit deficit to 51-42 after three quarters.

“We shared the ball, we boxed out, we rotated on defense, we talked a little more…organized ourselves every possession down [the court],” West said. “It was simple. The things we’ve trained for all year, we showed that in the second half.”

Tyquavious Williams’ 17-footer off Jabari Pearsall’s assist ignited a short offensive burst that woke up a once-silent student section. Chris Carmon snagged an offensive rebound, got fouled and drained two free throws.

A frenetic, turnover-filled pace ensued as the teams combined to score just four points. Donshae Boseman’s 3-pointer off a Goldsboro turnover closed the gap to 56-53 with 2:32 left in regulation.

The Cougars stretched it to 61-55 on a 3-pointer before the Saints climbed to within 61-59 on back-to-back baskets from Boseman and Chris McDuffie.

After Faison missed a free throw, McDuffie grabbed the rebound and got tied up near the Saints’ basket. McDuffie lost possession, Faison picked up the loose ball and eventually tallied his 21st and 22nd points of the night to seal the outcome.

“Every guy who came in after they got their number called, they were ready,” West said. “That made a difference.”

Boseman paced the Saints with 21 points. McDuffie, Williams and Angelo Maddox knocked down seven points apiece. Carmon and Pearsall each scratched for six points.

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