Senior post player Shiquan Cox said Triton had some extra motivation in a 68-52 win over Western Harnett in the first round of the Tri-County Six 3-A Conference varsity boys basketball tournament on Monday night.
Not only were the Hawks hoping to validate their resume for the NCHSAA playoffs, there was payback involved from the Eagles’ 58-57 win on the Hawks’ Senior Night. Cox thought he was fouled on a follow shot at the close of that contest on Feb. 2, but there was no call.
“I had a chip on my shoulder,” said Cox, who was in conversation with a recruiter from Johnston Community College after the game.
Triton used 27 points from Cox and a 27-10 scoring advantage in the second quarter to advance to a semifinal game with host Southern Lee tonight at 7:30. Harnett Central and Lee County play in the first game at Southern Lee at 6 p.m. The Hawks are the only team in the league to beat the Cavaliers this season.
Triton coach T.J. Morrison noted that Cox went over 1,000 points for his career in the seniors’ last game on their home floor.
“He told me he was going to be focused and locked in,” Morrison said.
Cox hit 11 of 14 field goal attempts and was five for six at the line.
Maurice Williams had 11 points and Chrishaun Henry added 10 as the Hawks improved to 14-11. Cox and Henry each had eight rebounds.
Western (10-12) got 16 points from Jamar Butler, 13 from Tre’ Richardson and 10 from Tobias Dillard.
With the Eagles on top, 13-11, after a drive by Butler, Triton went on a 19-2 run that started with a go-ahead, three-point play by Cox. Williams followed with the first of a pair of 3-pointers in the flurry. Cox had 11 points and an assist to Henry in the spree.
Western started the second half with 12 unanswered points to pull within 36-33 before the Hawks responded with a 12-4 run.
“In general, a better effort,” Morrison said. “The third quarter, they came out hot. Other than that, I thought we played with a little more effort and a little better intensity. … It’s tough (Tuesday) night, back-to-back and at Southern Lee, but bring them on. Let’s play and get better.”
The outcome hurt Western’s chances for the playoffs.
“Triton knows what they do well,” said Eagles coach Seth Womble. “They get the ball inside. They’re a well-coached team. They kept doing what they do well, which is what you’re supposed to do.”
Western trailed 36-21 at the half.
“We were a couple of points away from our defensive goal at halftime,” Womble said. “We were 14 or so points shy of what we need to score to keep up with that pace. We took four or five bad shots in a row and they scored. That was the difference that separated us.”
Travion Sanders had seven points for the Hawks. Kalil Hodges had five points. Colby Parker scored four. Emari White had three points and Derreon Burnett added one point.
Sanders had five steals.
Anthony Brewington had five points in the loss. Darnell Carver had four points. James Taylor and Sam Tolbert tallied two points each.
Womble noted that Butler and Carver have offers from Central Carolina Community College.
“We made the playoffs last year for the first time in a while,” Womble said. “We had the same number of wins as last year but fewer losses, which is a positive. It’s kind of bittersweet. We’re doing the right things. We’re building our program.
“We’re a good hedge on a ball screen away for a 3-point shot that Harnett Central knocked down from being a two seed in this conference and being the automatic bid (for the playoffs), and so we ended up being the five seed. That’s how competitive our league was.
“They can’t hang their head. We’re getting better and we’ve got a strong junior class. … We’ll get back after it.”
Western answers bell with Bell
The same schools matched up at Western in a first-round girls game with the Lady Eagles advancing, 56-47, in double overtime.
The Triton girls, who finished 6-19, outscored their hosts 22-10 in the fourth quarter to get the game into the first overtime.
Lahaina “LaLa” Bell had 15 of her 30 points in the extra periods for Western (7-15).
“We had a defensive strategy that was working on her earlier in the game, but we didn’t execute it as well at the end,” said Triton girls coach Keith Howard.
The Lady Hawks were double-teaming Bell as she came off ball screens. She only scored two points in the first half as the Eagles led 12-11 at the break.
Triton had a two-point lead late in the first overtime but Bell went the length of the court for a tying basket with seven seconds to go. The Lady Hawks had a three-point lead in the second extra period but Howard said too many turnovers allowed the hosts to pull away.
Ana-Beth Brewer led Triton with 15 points. Kathryn Elliott tallied 10. Anayah Lockamy scored six. Allure Smith tallied five and Anastasia McDonald added four. The Lady Hawks got two points each from Hannah Jackson, Alexis Howard and Kaila Cooney. Zoie Starling had one point.