The Havelock High girls basketball team took a key step toward a possibly playoff spot, beating White Oak 37-32 Wednesday in a Coastal 3A Conference game in Jacksonville.
The White Oak girls’ team (12-7, 4-5) was hoping to remain in fourth place in the conference. Instead, White Oak fell to fifth place while Havelock (9-8, 4-5) jumped to fourth since it has two wins this season over the Vikings. Havelock beat White Oak 38-31 on Dec. 11.
“Our conference, all of us are fighting to try to get into the playoffs now that we are in the second rotation (of league play),” Havelock coach Anna Spear said.
The conference gets five playoff spots, and the Rams have five league games left, starting with a home contest against Washington on Friday night.
In what was a back and forth but defensive battle, the Vikings took a 24-23 lead into the fourth quarter and led 26-25 with 5:35 left.
That’s when the Rams pulled away.
Havelock surged ahead with a 6-0 run, with two points coming on a layup by Shakina Dyer to give the Rams a 27-26 edge with 4:28 remaining. Kierra Fleming capped the spurt on a putback for a 31-26 cushion.
The Vikings got within three in the final two minutes but no closer.
“We missed a couple of shots within the 3-point line that were open,” White Oak coach Carolyn Ashdown said. “Their defense is kind of big with their hands up and for us to try to penetrate and kick, we were not able to do it.”
White Oak was 2 of 13 from the field in the final eight minutes while Havelock was 4 of 7. The Rams’ primary focus on defense was to limit Vikings’ senior center Lyric Levester, who finished with 9 points and 13 rebounds.
Emily McLain had 11 points and 6 rebounds for WOHS while Tineisha Smith had 8 points and 6 boards.
“We still wanted to not allow penetration of No. 32 (Levester),” Spear said of her team’s fourth-quarter game plan. “We wanted to try to keep her out. We felt if we could contain (Levester and McLain) then we could stay in our matchups.”
But limiting Levester wasn’t just Havelock’s plan in the fourth quarter. The Rams spent the entire game defending the Vikings’ leading scorer.
“They just played zone and their defense made us struggle,” Ashdown said. “When we penetrated, they rotated one person in front and one person behind her. Every time she caught it, there was a person in the front and behind her. And the biggest thing came when somebody shot, they were able to put two people on her to box her out and get the rebound.”
White Oak had a few possessions in the second and third quarters with the lead without much half-court pressure from the Rams, who were in zone. Ashdown was asked if she considered holding the ball for longer periods of times since her team struggled getting it inside.
“We definitely tried to manage the clock as best we could without having to mess up tempo,” she said. “Sometimes when you slow down for too long and get out of tempo, it turns into, ‘Oh, we need a basket. What do we do? We’ve been standing around holding the ball for so long.’
“Last game we played them, the pace was a little faster.”
Natalie Johnson and Dyer each scored 12 points for Havelock.
White Oak 47
Leading 2-0, White Oak yielded a 13-0 first-quarter run and never recovered in falling to the Rams in a Coastal Conference game.
With the victory, the Rams improved to 10-7 overall and 7-2 in the conference, battling with South Central and West Craven for the top three spots in the conference.
Kendall White scored 12 points for White Oak (5-14, 2-7). He was coming off a 30-point effort on Tuesday in a 67-64 win over West Carteret.
Pharoh Cooper scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead Havelock. Zack Bruns had 14 points, while David Carter and Matt Prichard hit for 12 each.
Havelock 11 7 5 14 — 37
White Oak 6 10 8 8 — 32
Johnson 12, Barrette 3, Wilson 2, Dyer 12, McKinley 2, Fleming 6. Totals— 13-34 9-18 37.
WHITE OAK (32)
McLain 11, L. Levester 9, Smith 8, Czigler 2, I. Levester 2. Totals— 12-43 7-12 32.
3-Point Goals— H 2 (Johnson, Dyer), W 1 (McLain). Rebounds— H 28 (Johnson 6, Fleming 6), W 36 (L. Levester 13, Mclain 6, Smith 6). RECORDS— H: 9-8, 4-5, hosts Washington on Friday. W: 12-7, 4-5, hosts D.H. Conley on Friday.
Havelock 19 14 19 12 — 64
White Oak 6 10 13 18 — 47
Carter 12, Boykin 7, Ju. Cuthbertson 2, Jo. Cuthbertson 1, Bruns 14, Cooper 16, Prichard 12. Totals— 24-61 13-21 64.
WHITE OAK (47)
Garrison 6, K. White 12, Jones 8, Q. White 7, Robinson 6, Sloane 8. Totals— 17-53 10-15 47.
3-Point Goals— H 3 (Carter, Boykin, Bruns), W 3 (Sloane 2, Garrison). Rebounds— H 44 (Cooper 14), W 29 (K. White 6). RECORDS— H: 10-7, 7-2, hosts Washington on Friday. W: 5-14, 2-7, hosts D.H. Conley on Friday.