The pregame song playing over the speakers at Havelock High School Thursday had a chorus line that echoed “big time players make big time plays” – it must have been an omen.
With less than two minutes to go in the game, after Havelock had tied it with a ferocious comeback, West Craven guard Demetres Abrams swished a corner 3-pointer that put the Eagles back up by three.
On the ensuing play, Abrams stole the inbounds pass and laid the ball in for two more.
The Eagles (19-4, 14-0) then finished off the Rams 75-68 to conclude their Coastal Conference season unblemished.
“That play with Abrams making the three and then the steal, that did it,” Havelock coach Bill Fryczynski said.
West Craven coach Bryan Goehring felt much the same way.
“Demetres (Abrams) took over with his defense and his offense and won us the game tonight,” Goehring said.
Abrams scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half.
“They were playing some sort of zone and I told my teammates that I felt like I would be open in the corner and I was able to make it,” Abrams said.
West Craven overcame a hostile road crowd and a Hakeem Olajuwon-esque effort from Rams’ senior forward Matt Prichard.
Prichard had 29 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
Josh Cuthbertson was the game’s high-scorer with 34 for the Eagles and 15 rebounds, and Tyrone Brown added seven points and eight boards.
“We ran the triangle-and-two that worked well for us the first time against them in the first half, but Cuthbertson was killing us. I keep waiting for someone to invent a defense to defend those two (Abrams and Cuthbertson)” Fryczynski said.
“Prichard was outstanding for us tonight and the guys are disappointed, but every team we lost to this season is a good team and we have to go to the conference tournament and see what happens.”
The Eagles will be the No.1 seed in next week’s Coastal Conference tournament and heavy favorite to win it.
Havelock (14-8, 11-3) will also get a home game and its seed will depend on a coin flip with South Central.
West Craven girls outscrap rival Rams
A dreary, turnover-filled first half for both teams gave way to an Eagle explosion in the third quarter.
West Craven (19-5, 12-2) outscored Havelock 18-6 in the third period to fight out a 61-49 victory.
The Eagles shot 16 of 23 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter alone to seal the win and a tie for first place with D.H. Conley.
“It was exactly what I feared it would be, a tough physical battle,” West Craven coach David Fernandez said.
“We knew Havelock would get physical with us and I told the girls they weren’t going to give us anything, we had to take it.”
Jamie Cherry scored 27 points, while Jasmine Raynor tacked on 12 and Kaylee Koerperich led the team in rebounds (10) and floor burns, as 50/50 balls belonged to her and the Eagles.
“We knew we were going to have to be scrappy and go as hard as we could,” Koerperich said.
Havelock (12-9, 7-6) got its biggest performance from senior center Kierra Fleming, who poured in 16 points and snatched nine rebounds.
“We got beat a lot by ourself (not taking anything away from West Craven) but with our turnovers and missed shots. Then in the third quarter, they took the momentum from us,” Havelock coach Anna Spear said.
“We have to get ready for the conference tournament and play with a sense of urgency and make sure we play 5-on-5 basketball.”
West Craven will be either the No.1 or No.2 seed, depending on the outcome of a coin flip with D.H. Conley.
West Craven (75) – Josh Cuthbertson 34, Demetres Abrams 25, Tyrone Brown 7. Javier Monk 7, Andrew Reid 2.
Havelock (68) – Matt Prichard 29, Zack Bruns 19, D.J. Carter 11, Kyran Bowman 5, Pharoh Cooper 4.
West Craven (61) – Jamie Cherry 27, Jasmine Raynor 12, Nyeesha Roundtree 9, Nishedra Brown 8, Kaylee Koerperich 5.
Havelock (49) – Kierra Fleming 16, Apriel Barrette 12, Natalie Johnson 8, Shakina Dyer 6, Jalisa Wilson 4, Iesha Cooper 2, Alaya Fenderson 1.