Photos and article from Kai Jones
Goldsboro went into halftime of its N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A first-round matchup with Seaforth up 23-18.
The Cougars (19-4), a six-seed, found themselves in a tightly contested game with the 27-seeded Hawks (12-10). Fourth-year head coach Jamal Croom decided to get back to Goldsboro’s bread and butter.
“Switching defenses,” Croom said about what changed the tide of the game.
Goldsboro switched from full-court man to a full-court press — the foundation of Goldsboro basketball. The press was effective as Seaforth made 12 turnovers in the third quarter, and Goldsboro won the quarter 27-6. The Cougars won the game 63-35.
“We turned the intensity up,” Croom said. “That second half was electric. If we play like that for a full game, we can beat anyone.”
The vaunted Cougar press is not exclusive to this team but a culture that has been built for years. The press mixed with the enthusiastic crowd and the acoustics at Norvell T. Lee Gymnasium make it almost insufferable for opponents.
“People standing over top of you and our student section has been phenomenal all year,” Croom said. “It really energizes the guys. It’s really our sixth man.”
The crowd got extra loud when Goldsboro junior Ta’korrie Faison got a put-back dunk over a defender to end the third quarter. Faison finished the game with 17 points.
Croom said he believes Faison was locked in for this game, especially because of the matchup with ESPN Top 25 2024 Ranked Jarin Stevenson. Stevenson finished with a game-high 18 points.
Goldsboro junior Taj Joyner and sophomore Andre ‘Radio’ Williams led the press and finished with 11 and 9 points, respectively. Senior Justice Wooten had 13 points. Senior Deontay Hooker also added in 8 points.
Goldsboro will next face Louisburg at home at 7 p.m. Louisburg defeated Princeton 52-50 in the first round. Goldsboro swept Princeton in the season series.