It was not easy, but Goldsboro picked up its first win of the season on Monday evening. The Cougars defeated county rival Southern Wayne 63-59.
“It was a tale of two halves. The first half was beautiful. We shared the ball and played our way,” Goldsboro head coach Jamal Croom said. “I give Southern Wayne credit. They really challenged us, and we didn’t do a good job of handling their pressure, so it’s something we’ll have to do a better job of.”
Southern Wayne held an 8-5 lead early in the contest, but the Cougars’ Takorrie Faison scored four straight points, including a thunderous alley-oop dunk, to give Goldsboro a 9-8 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Cougars turned up the pressure on the Saints and used a 14-6 run, and another dunk from Faison, to take a 23-14 lead and forced Southern Wayne head coach Brian West to call a timeout.
However, coming out of the timeout, the Cougars used a 10-3 run to take a 33-17 lead at halftime.
“That’s the way we want to play, fast,” Croom said. “Team scores, we get the ball out fast, getting ahead of the defense, and trying to beat everybody down the floor.
“If we can do that then we’ll be very successful, but when we go away from that. That’s when we have our issues.”
The Saints refused to quit and in the second half, they started to mount a comeback. Down 49-28 late in the third quarter, Southern Wayne embarked on a 14-2 run that Angelo Maddox capped off with a three-pointer.
Trailing 51-42 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Saints continued to chip away at the Cougars’ lead, and with two minutes left in the game, Donshae Boseman scored to make it a one-point ballgame.
Goldsboro responded with back-to-back baskets from Justice Wooten and Faison to push the Cougars ahead 61-55.
“Southern Wayne was just physically tough. They were being scrappy and playing with desperation, and we didn’t match that,” Croom said. “That big lead that we had, for some reason, I think the guys thought that was a comfortable enough lead.
“When you’re playing varsity high school basketball, you can’t let off the gas at any moment.”
Still, the Saints refused to go away scored four straight points to cut the deficit down to 61-59. And with a couple seconds left, the Saints had a chance to tie the game, but they turned the ball over.
The Saints then fouled Faison, who sank a couple of free throws to seal the Cougars’ win.
“Southern Wayne easily could’ve laid down and they didn’t. It’s a reflection of their coach (Brian West),” Croom said. “I played against their coach in high school, and he’s not going to lay down.”
Faison ended the game with 22 points, Tajmari Joyner scored 17 points and Wooten ended the game with 12 points. Boseman led the Saints with 22 points.
Goldsboro (1-1 overall) hosts C.B. Aycock (2-0) on Friday, while Southern Wayne (0-1) entertains Eastern Wayne (0-3).