The first round of two area conference basketball tournaments tipped off on Monday night. A third, the East Central Conference Tournament, began last night.
The Triton and Harnett Central high school boys basketball teams advanced in the Tri County 6 Conference Tournament. The Triton girls and South Johnston boys lost and were eliminated.
The Triton Hawk boys hosted Western Harnett at home Monday night and won, 68-52. They moved on to play at Southern Lee last night at 7:30.
Hawks head coach T.J. Morrison called Western Harnett “a very tough test,” noting the team’s 12 3-pointers in Triton’s home gym earlier this season.
“We played good,” Coach Morrison said. “It was a good win … a needed win.”
He said his boys played great first-half defense to hold a 15-point halftime lead.
“(Western Harnett) came out on a 10-0 run in the third quarter and we withstood that,” he said. “We played well, more like ourselves.”
The Lady Hawks lost at Western Harnett Monday night in double overtime, 56-47.
Harnett Central’s boys were victorious over Union Pines in Cameron on Monday, 65-46.
Trojan head coach Will Gage credited it a team victory, saying there were “contributions from a lot of different players.”
That’s crucial at this time of year, said the coach. “If you’re relying on just one or two, you cap yourself,” he said, explaining that if a key scorer has an off night, other players who aren’t used to making major contributions could struggle.
“At this time of year, you’re just trying to get away with a win,” Coach Gage said, “Our players played really hard and they were rewarded for it.”
He credited inside players Chase Mullins and Kizer Ray. Mullins led the Trojans in scoring with 14 points, Kasey Perkins had 10.
The coach said his team is using the possible opportunity to make the state tournament as motivation, saying “nothing’s guaranteed.”
They played again last night versus Lee County at Southern Lee with the winner guaranteed a seed in the state playoffs.
South Johnston fell to Cleveland on the opening night of the Greater Neuse Conference Tournament, 51-44. The Lady Trojans opened tournament play last night at West Johnston.
The Midway Raiders, girls and boys, played last night in East Duplin. The girls faced Spring Creek and the boys played Goldsboro. The entire, seven-team East Central conference tournament will be played in East Duplin, with the finals beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday.
— Shaun Savarese