VANCEBORO — Both Havelock and West Craven had a lot on the line in Friday’s Coastal 3A Conference championship.
Havelock was trying to win its first league tournament title in recent memory, while West Craven was aiming to repeat as champs, and finish the conference season undefeated.
In a hard-fought battle, West Craven was a smidgen tougher by outlasting the Rams 72-64.
Josh Cuthbertson scored 32 points, 16 in the third quarter alone, and snatched 12 rebounds. He also passed Kinston and North Carolina legend Jerry Stackhouse in North Carolina high school career points.
“The whole team has to step up and they did tonight,” West Craven coach Bryan Goehring said. “We’ve been through a ton of close-game situations that have prepared us for tonight. The defensive intensity picked up in the second half.”
The Eagles led 52-48 after three quarters, and iced it with free throws and in-your-face defense that forced Havelock turnovers.
“My guys played as hard as they could tonight and with their (West Craven’s) athleticism, we came up just short against them again,” Havelock coach Bill Fryczynski said. “I can’t remember the last time we lost two in a row, so going into the playoffs as conference runner-up, and playing in the game for the first time since nobody knows when, I’m very proud of the guys this year.”
Demetres Abrams added 20 points for the Eagles and Tyrone Brown just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
Matt Prichard led Havelock with 15 points, while David Carter added 14, Zack Bruns 13 and Pharoh Cooper 11.
“It just feels great to be conference champs again as a senior,” Josh Cuthbertson said. “Havelock came to play tonight and we knew they would, but my guys stepped up and wanted it a bit more. It makes me feel great as a star player because I know I can’t do it by myself.”
The Eagles and Rams both will have home playoff games Monday as the 3A state tournament starts.
West Craven (72) - Josh Cuthbertson 32, Demetres Abrams 20, Tyrone Brown 9, Zac Cuthbertson 4, Anthony Oates 4, Andrew Reid 2, Kylikke Green 1.
Havelock (64) - Matt Prichard 15, D.J. Carter 14, Zack Bruns 13, Pharoh Cooper 11, Kyran Bowman 7, Shondel Granison 4.