ROCKY MOUNT —
Trailing by one point with a little over three minutes left to go in a very crucial Eastern Plains Confernece game, the Tarboro Lady Vikings went on a 10-4 run to close out the game. That all happened behind some tough pressure defense which resulted in four Greene Central Ram turnovers and turned into Lady Viking points. The result of the pressure defense was a Lady Vikings 56-48 victory. Tarboro improves to 8-11 overall and are 3-5 in conference play.
Lady Vikings head coach Jamie WIlloughby was glad to see her team handle the fourth quarter like they did, because in past games they have folded once a team takes the lead on them and usually are unable to regroup and bounce back. Friday was different and Willoughby is hoping that is something that is the beginning of something new for her team.
"I though we handled the situation well, because there has been other games where we didn't handle that type of situation well," Willoughby said. "We did a good job tonight down the stretch, but we still have work to do."
The Lady Vikings spread their scoring out. They had four starters with at least eight points and Shayla Thorne came off of the bench and gave her team a lift. She added eight points and gave Willoughby some good defensive minutes where she forced a few turnovers.
Junior Nyasha Savage led the way with 13 points and had five assist, while A'Jah Williams chipped in 13 as well. Lisa Jones also added a spark for the Lady Vikings as she scored 11 points and had 10 rebounds to go along with two blocked shots.
A factor that made Willoughby the happiest is that during stretches of the season when her team gets down, they seem to falter and lose their composer. She was pleased with the way they responded after losing a 15 point lead late in the game after leading the majority it.
"I am hoping that they have started understanding that we have been in several of our conference games and three have been by four points and they need to know they are right there to win," Willoughby said. "We just can't get over that hump and I am hoping this game will prove that we are capable of doing that now. Granted we have to do a better job of finishing games, because we blew a double digit lead. We were able to fight through and finish the game off with the win."
The Lady Vikings did have another tough game at the basket. They missed nine lay-ups during transition chances which gave them several opportunities to blow the game open and they just couldn't capitalize. That part of the game has been a big problem for them this season and Willoughby has come to realize that.
"I have to come to the realization that these are high school kids racing 100 miles per hour and they are going to miss lay-ups. I know we aren't going to hit them all," Willoughby said. "As long as we can limit the number of missed lay-ups each game I guess is my goal now. If we keep running the court and if we miss we have to be there to get the rebound to respond back."
Willoughby and her Lady Vikings are looking to finish the season off on a strong note and seal an automatic bid to the playoffs. For them to do that they are going to have to win at least three out of the next four and make a run in the conference tournament. She knows her team is capable of doing that and is looking forward to the challenge her team faces this week.
Greene Central 88
Tarboro Vikings second-year head coach Craig Savage had six keys on the board for his team Friday night against the Greene Central Rams.
He wanted his team to play tough defense, box out, play hard, share the ball, run the ball and cut down on turnovers. They were unable to execute over half of them and the result was what has been the last eight games, a loss. The Rams defeated the Vikings 88-80.
The big key to the game was the boxing out. Late in the game, Tarboro was down two points and sent Greene Central to the free throw line. The Rams hit one of the two free throws, but the Vikings didn't box out and the Rams grabbed the rebound and Tarboro had to foul again which sealed the game for the Rams after they converted the next two free throws.
"That is the part about coaching because you give them keys to the game doesn't mean they are going to go out and do them," Savage said. "All the turnovers hurt us once again and they scored off of them."
Savage was upset about the loss, because his team had a seven point lead at halftime and they blew that in the third quarter when they began to turn the ball over on four consecutive possessions.
"In a close game you can't turn the ball over like we did," Savage said. "We look like we threw the ball to them on several of our possessions. I don't know what they see out there sometimes. That made a big difference in the game."
Tarboro tuned the ball over 34 times which led to 14 Ram points.
The Vikings had terrible shot selections during the game. The shots 24 three-pointers and made nine.
Kelvin Jones hit five of the 3's and finsihed with a game-high 24 points. Antonio WInstead came off of the bench and gave the Vikings some limited minutes and added 12 while on the floor. Maliek Hudson chipped in 11.
Tarboro is back in action Tuesday when they travel to play the Kinston Vikings.