Kinston finishes second at ECI Tournament: Guess who finished first? High Point Andrews led by Darius Rogers’ 21 points

The High Point Andrews Red Raiders, won the East Coast Invitational high school summer baseketball tournament on Sunday, over the Kinston Vikings, at Jacksonville, N.C. Coach James Abell’s club was led by senior Darius Rogers…..

from the Kinston-Jacksonville Press on line:

JACKSONVILLE – While losing to High Point Andrews, 50-39, in the finale of the 10th annual East Coast Invitational wasn’t the way Kinston coach Wells Gulledge wanted his Jacksonville summer basketball tournament to end, he couldn’t help but be proud of his Vikings.

Kinston graduated nine seniors in June, including McDonald’s All-American Reggie Bullock, along with three-year starters Dory Hines, Dallas Best and Josh Benoit. But it was the way the Vikings played in the 24-team ECI – the tournament Gulledge began 10 years ago to help foster team play in North Carolina’s prep basketball ranks – that left the Vikings’ mentor smiling on the Jacksonville Commons Recreation Center court on Sunday.

“We learned a lot about our team this week,” said Gulledge, who led the Vikings to their second state championship in three seasons in March. “Yes, we have a ways to go, but this was a good week for everyone.”

Kinston trailed 33-18 after three quarters in the title tilt, but opened the fourth quarter on a 15-4 run. However, a costly technical foul that was handed to rising sophomore Donte Reynolds with 4:18 remaining in regulation and the Red Raiders responded with a 9-0 run that salted the game away.

“It made a difference, yes,” Gulledge said. “But I’d rather it happen in July than to happen in February or March. We can certainly use that moment as a learning moment.”

The Red Raiders finished the ECI 8-0 and Andrews coach James Abell said the effort was certainly something to build upon.

“It’s only July and we realize that,” said Abell, whose Red Raiders will be one of the favorites to play in the 2A state championship game in March, 2011. “But this was a good test for our team this week.”

The Red Raiders were led by rising senior guard Darius Rogers, who had 21 points, five rebounds and four assists in the championship game.

“He was certainly valuable for them,” Gulledge said of Rogers.