Lincolnton coach Bob Cowie seemed almost eager to face North Gastonâ€™s full-court zone traps Tuesday night at home. He had confidence the Wolves could beat the press and get some easy transition baskets.
As it turned out, Lincolnton was no more successful at solving the Wildcatsâ€™ defense than they were in the first meeting a few weeks ago.
The Wolves (2-6) withered under the pressure, blew an early eight-point lead and fell with a thud 60-43 in the final game prior to the Christmas break.
â€œWhat is disappointing is that they did this to us a month ago, and I would have thought we would have been better prepared,â€ Cowie said. â€œWe obviously were not, and I am not sure why that is.â€
If Cowie used the second meeting with the Big South 3A Conference team as a measuring stick of progress, he better roll up his sleeves and get back to work.
Lincolnton went more than 11 minutes without a field goal in the second half, and the Wolvesâ€™ field goal percentage in the final two quarters was 19 percent (4-for-21).
Those problems negated a promising start that saw Lincolnton open up an 18-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
â€œWe tend to come out with a lot of intensity in the first half and then fall apart. One of my assistant coaches informed me that we had been outscored by 55 points in the third quarter,â€ Cowie said.
Tuesday nightâ€™s third quarter did not improve that dismal stat as North Gaston went on an 11-6 run to extend a six-point halftime lead to 11, 43-32.
Lincolntonâ€™s Demory Williams hit a basket 30 seconds into the second half, but the Wolves did not net another field goal until Zack Gibson sank a runner in the lane with 4:31 left in the game. By that point, the Wildcats had things firmly under control.
The key stretch of the game was the last 5:05 of the second quarter, when North Gaston used its press to fuel a 12-3 blitz that turned a 23-20 deficit into a 32-26 lead. The Wolves made six turnovers in the second quarter after committing only two in the first eight minutes.
Tae Friday had 12 points and Aaron Tyson scored 10 for North Gaston (7-3). The Wolves had no one in double figures. Williams led the way with nine.
However, Cowie could take consolation in one bright spot. P.J. Hamright, a lanky 6-5 sophomore center, scored seven points off the bench on 2-for-3 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from the line.
North Gaston 10 22 11 17 -60
Lincolnton 18 8 6 11 -43
WILDCATS: Brooks 3, Carrigan 5, Tae Friday 12, Little 4, Young 7, Shives 2, White 9, Aaron Tyson 10, Johnson 3, Ewers 5.
WOLVES: Zack Gibson 4, Edwin Barber 5, Demory Williams 9, Lance Friday 7, Dustin Metts 3, Kyle Snyder 2, Jammel Jefferies 4, P.J. Hamright 7, Matt Wright 2.
North Gaston 37
Three players reached double figures as Lincolnton squared its season record at 4-4. Jessie Cline led the way with 16, followed by Brittney Jones with 12 and Nakesha Duncan with 10. Monica Johnsonâ€™s 14 points led North Gaston.
North Gaston 7 5 11 14 -37
Lincolnton 10 8 13 11 -43
WILDCATS: Johnson 14, C. Kennedy 2, Gladden 6, Patterson 3, Glenn 3, L. Kennedy 5, McLean 4.
WOLVES: Brittney Jones 12, Jessie Cline 16, Faw 3, Edwards 2, Nakesha Duncan 10.
Junior Varsity Girls
North Gaston 6 8 6 8 -30
Lincolnton 10 15 15 8 -48
WILDCATS: Hines 13, Byers 6, Robbins 9, Childas 2.
WOLVES: McLean 6, Bradley 4, Beam 4, Oxendine 2, Caitlin Clark 13, Brown 4, Steward 5, Bynum 2, Seagle 8.
LADY WOLVESâ€™ RECORD: 6-2.
by Mike Powell