The East Lincoln Mustangs jumped out to an early 13-1 lead on the North Gaston Wildcats and never looked back en route to a 64-41 victory Tuesday night.
The Wildcats were without 1,000 point scorer Aaron Tyson. Nonetheless, Wayne White paced the Mustangs with 18 points, while Darin Dellinger scored 12. Carlos Marquez-Sykes contributed 10.
Brandon Duncan led the Wildcats with 15, while Luke White contributed 12.
Head coach Neil Hodges was pleased with the much-needed win, as far as the 3A State Playoffs are concerned.
â€œIt was good solid victory. Tyson didnâ€™t play, so that gave us a pretty good advantage,â€ he said.
â€œWayne (White) hit the open shots and Darin (Dellinger) had a good floor game. We really need Josh Davis Carlos Marquez to step up, theyâ€™ve been inconsistent at times,â€ Hodges said.
The Mustangs up their record to 12-8, 5-6 in the Big South 3A. Effort was the biggest thing that stood out in the victory to Hodges.
â€œAs a team, we played very hard. We were ready to play. It was a big conference game for us, our backs were against the wall and we challenged them to come and play hard and they did,â€ he said.
Hodges believes the Mustangs have played solid basketball for the past two-three weeks. He noted his teamâ€™s game versus East Gaston and against Berry Academy, even though the Mustangs lost those contests.
Where does the coach feel his Mustangs are in terms of securing on the top four seeds?
â€œItâ€™s still too early to tell. If weâ€™re able to run the table and win out then I think we have a good shot. We have three tough games left, but I do feel we control our own destinyâ€ Hodges said.
For now he is just satisfied by the win over the Wildcats and is preparing for Hunter Huss on Friday.
â€œWe moved the ball around very well, played with a lot of intensity and emotion. It was a must game for us to win and Iâ€™m glad for our kids that we were able to win it,â€ Hodges said.
North Gaston 7 13 5 16-41
East Lincoln 18 18 11 17-64
WILDCATS: Brandon Duncan 15, Carrigan 3, Friday 4, Luke White 12, Ewers 7.
MUSTANGS: Darin Dellinger 12, Wayne White 18, Devin Carter 2, Lowery 9, Carlos Marquez-Sykes 10, Nick Harmon 5, Josh Davis 8.
The Mustangs had a five point fourth quarter lead, but couldnâ€™t sustain it losing to the Wildcats 51-48.
Monica Johnson led North Gaston with 25 points. Alyson Kielar led East with 15, while Krista Moore scored 14. Mirand Lamberth had eight.
East Lincoln had a chance to tie the game, but the 3-pointer proved not to be true.
â€œWe dug ourselves a hole early and that came back to bite us in the end. On the final shot, we had a chance to tie, but it was too strong,â€ Deidra Gibson-Legrande said.
North Gaston 11 10 8 22-51
East Lincoln 5 9 15 19-48
WILDCATS: C. Kennedy 1, Gladden 3, L. Kennedy 6, McClean 4, Glenn 8, Monica Johnson 25.
MUSTANGS: K. Roseboro 2, Webb 4, T. Roseboro 3, Alyson Kielar 15, Scercy 2, Krista Moore 14, Miranda Lamberth 8.
by John Mark Brooks