PINETOPS — A run and gun fast paced offense is what the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars are all about this year. They used their offensive scheme and big three-pointers Friday night to squeeze by Eastern Plains Conference foe the Beddingfield Bruins. The Cougars were hot from the floor in the first half and kept a steady paced offense going in the second to win 77-71. The Cougars improved to 10-3 overall and are 1-2 in conference action.
The Cougars defensive pressure was the key in the first half. They forced the Bruins to commit 16 turnovers and SouthWest turned that into 10 points during that stretch. They scored 20 points in the game off of forced turnovers.
"It was a battle between two good teams," SouthWest head coach Anthony Burns said. "Our defense prevailed for us. We worked hard the entire game on the defensive end – which helped us come out on top."
Burns continued to rely on his senior leaders, Javin Hinton and Anthony Coley. Hinton led the way with 29 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, while Coley added 20 points and 14 rebounds.
"Javin and Anthony were the true leaders for us like they have been all season," Burns said. "They have the capability to put in work every night. They are coming in every game and putting in the work that I expect from them."
After winning the annual county holiday tournament, Burns had high expectations of his team coming off of the break. He wanted them to continue their fast paced play just like they did in the tournament. His team had worked on defense and offense after the tournament so they could try and turn it up a notch.
"We were ready to compete tonight," Burns said. "We are on a roll right now and are playing great as a team mentally right now. The gel of the team is coming together real nice for us right now."
The Cougars used a big run in the first quarter to jump out ahead of the Bruins. They hit five three-pointers in the first quarter. Coley and Devonte Williams hit two apiece, while Fabrion Bandy drained one from the wing. The Cougars took advantage of Bruin miscues and led 23-9 after one.
The Bruins cut into the lead in the second quarter and put three mini runs together and forced the Cougars to take a timeout after the Bruins had cut the lead to 10.
"I told them not to freak out and just stay cool under pressure," Burns said. "I told them not to get out of the game mentally and continue to play like we know how too."
Coming out of the timeout, the Cougars settled down and turned up the defensive pressure once again. They led 41-30 at halftime.
Late in the game, the Bruins mounted another run and made a comeback, but Coley and Hinton just weren't going to let that happen. They continued to be a terror on the offensive boards. They scored on six second chance opportunities late in the game and knocked down big free throws to help the Cougars seal the win.
Bandy added 13, while Williams finished with 11.
The win was big for the Cougars, because Burns knew his team would be able to compete in the conference this year. He has very high standards that he wants his team to meet and they are getting to the point of where he knows they can compete with anyone.
"We just can't let up," Burns said. "We can't settle for where we are right now. I am going to continue to preach to these guys everyday about how good I think we can be."
Lady Bruins 63
Lady Cougars 27
The SouthWest Edgecombe Lady Cougars started the game like a streak of lightening and were playing like a newly improved squad, but the Beddingfield Lady Bruins weren't going to let the Cougars get their first win of the season against them. The Bruins turned up their defensive pressure and forced the Cougars to turn the ball over 41 times, which led to 24 Bruin points as Beddingfield went on to route the Cougars 63-27.
"We have to do a better job of transition and taking care of the ball," Cougars head coach Sandra Langley said. "We have to learn that we have to be able to break the press. If you don't have a ball handler in the game it hurts."
The two ball handlers the Cougars have were on the bench the majority of the game. Senior Dawson Gould and sophomore Montana York were on the bench most of the game for the Cougars.
Gould was plagued with foul trouble most of the game and with 3:29 left in the third quarter, she had fouled out of the game. Langley was shocked that Gould had received her fifth foul, because she had checked the scorers book just minutes prior and she only had three.
York was injured early on in the game when she was thrown to the floor by a Bruins defender and landed on the ball. She sat on the bench for several minutes and returned to the game. Just a couple of minutes after returning, she was knocked to the floor again and had to be helped off and didn't return for precautionary reasons.
"When Montana went out we didn't have anybody else to use as back up point guard and that hurt us," Langley said. "We just got scattered after she didn't return, because she is our leader on the floor playing the point. It was a very physical game and she just wasn't the same after she returned so I chose not to let her play in the second half."
The two plays where York was injured had Langley fired up on the sideline, because there wasn't a foul called on either play.
In the second half, the Cougars weren't able to accomplish much on the offensive end of the floor, because they continued to have trouble bringing the ball up the floor. The Bruins never let off of the gas and pressed the entire game until there was 2 minutes left and they backed off and went into a 2-3 zone.
Langley took a timeout late in the game and tried to calm her team down.
"I told them we just had to take our time and slow it down," Langley said. "Some of them try to go a little faster then what they really can. I told them it was important that they continued to play hard and hustle down the floor."
Niasia McDowell led the Cougars with nine points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
The Cougars will be back in action Tuesday when they host the North Pitt Panthers in an Eastern Plains Conference matchup.