Northwest Guilford took sole possession of second place in HAECO Championship wins on Wednesday night defeating rival Northern Guilford 48-33. The Vikings win was in large part due to big performances from their starting five. With the 2016 Championship, Northwest moves ahead of Page in all-time championships with 6.
No one knew what to expect coming into the game, as the two teams had already faced off once this season, when Northern beat the Vikings 58-46. Northwest claimed to be better prepared for Wednesday night’s HAECO Championship game, and Northern claimed to be deeper.
The first quarter featured only ten total points. After eight minutes, the Nighthawks were in front 6-4.
In the second quarter, Northwest sophomore guard Lindsay Gauldin added six points to a couple of other Viking baskets and Northwest took a one point lead into halftime.
The Vikings contained Northern’s biggest weapon, 6’5” Elissa Cunane in the first half, but the dominant, towering figure would need to continue to be well-guarded to pull out a victory.
“At halftime we talked about having to step our game up. We weren’t making all of our shots (in the first half),” sophomore guard Cayla King said. “We knew we were still in the game and we had each other’s backs.”
This statement they proved. Sophomore Elizabeth Kitley shared time guarding Cunane with Bria Gibbs in the second half. At one point, the Vikings had three of their five starters – King, Kitley, and Gibbs – with four personal fouls each. Their frontline had to step back to keep from fouling out of the game.
“We lost to Northern early,” Northwest head coach Darlene Joyner said. “We knew we would see them again in the finals of the HAECO and we wanted to make sure that we would come out on the winning end.”
The underdog Vikings did everything it took to beat the top-ranked team in the HAECO and come out on top.
Although Cunane was the game’s leading scorer with 22 of Northern’s 33 points, the Vikings got big help from Lindsay Gauldin’s 15 point night. Elizabeth Kitley posted the games only double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and HAECO Tournament MVP Cayla King also added 10 points for the Vikings in the victory.
“We wanted (the win) so bad,” sophomore Liz Kitley said. “We knew that we could do it, so we made it happen.”
Kitley, King, Gauldin, Gibbs, and the Vikings walk away with the hardware for the third year in a row, and they leave their rival Nighthawks still looking for their first HAECO Invitational Championship. Northwest’s Darlene Joyner now sits one win away from tying for the most women’s championships. Maybe a four-peat will come?
TOURNAMENT MVP: Cayla King (NWG)
The Greensboro Day School Bengals cruised to their sixth consecutive HAECO Invitational Championship by way of a 54-36 win over Northwest Guilford in the Boy’s bracket on Wednesday night at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.
The Vikings started the game off with a two-minute stall before they attempted the first shot.
Northwest coach Lee Reavis said it was an attempt to “make (Greensboro Day) play defense, give them a different look, and for us to take some good shots.”
When Northwest finally took its first shot, however, they missed, and the Bengals jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
The game became very physical, and was a low-scoring game if you consider that Greensboro Day has been ranked as high as third in the nation by MaxPreps this season.
The Bengals played solid defense in the first half, giving up only two points in the first quarter. Those two points came with two minutes remaining and were Vikings’ guard Jalen Spicer’s only points in the game.
The Vikings scored more often in the second quarter, and the Bengal lead at halftime was in single-digits – 25-16 – lower than it could’ve been.
Bengals star JP Moorman sat out the entire second quarter after getting called for two early fouls.
Playing without Moorman made John Newman aware that his role had to change.
“Once JP (Moorman) got those two fouls, our coaches told us to stay the course, don’t lose your composure,” the junior Newman said of Moorman’s foul trouble. “JP is a beast on the boards, so when he goes out, that means me, Will (Dillard) and Solomon (Smith), as a unit, have to give each other the extra boost or spark to go get the rebound.”
The Bengals were able to settle in once the second half got underway and get back to their original fast-paced game-plan.
John Newman Jr. led all scorers with 16 points and added eight rebounds, and JP Moorman reached double-digits in the scoring category, even though he missed an entire quarter. Moorman finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Vikings were unable to find the finesse they needed and missed several free throws throughout the game, which ended in their third consecutive second place finish in the HAECO Invitational.
The final score was 54-36. Greensboro Day’s players didn’t showcase their full repertoire, perhaps because the team has played six games in eight days. Whatever the reason, the Bengals left enough on Court One at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center to bring home – not surprisingly – the team’s sixth HAECO Championship in a row and their 15th in school history.
Northwest head coach Lee Reavis seemed optimistic despite the loss.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m happy with our guys,” Reavis said. “We’re not going to play a team of that caliber again all year, so if we can keep that in mind, keep working, this could be a positive thing for us.”
Tre Turner led Northwest with 12 points and nine rebounds. Thomas Hennigan, whom the Bengals’ John Newman Jr. called “the most physical person I’ve played against”, added nine points and seven rebounds, as did Reggie Davis for the Vikings.
The MVP of the Tournament was Greensboro Day’s JP Moorman, who also won the Most Valuable Player in the Tournament in the Bengals’ 2015 win.
Both coaches said their teams were going to take a couple of well-deserved days off before getting ready for their next game.
TOURNAMENT MVP: JP Moorman (GDS) “also won 2015 MVP”