Jackets best Northwood three at a time
Tre'von Watson put on an electrifying shooting show, hitting six three-pointers, including a 4-for-4 streak in the first 2:25 of the game, to lead Lee County (11-1) to a 67-56 win over Northwood (3-6) in Saturday night's last semifinal game of the Yellow Jacket Holiday Basketball Classic.
Watson finished the game with 23 points. The 6-foot point guard thrilled most of Lee County's Main Gym in a fast start for all of the Jackets.
Center Dewaun McEachin scored two hoops inside and Watson had a trey in between for a 7-0 Jacket start in the first 1:07.
Watson made a three from a few feet beyond the top of the key, then pulled up a drained a deeper shot from the left wing. He was left open and hit another from the left wing, by now with the Yellow Jacket bench and fans loving it, for a 16-2 Lee County lead.
The Jackets kept the lead ticking up three at a time, but with three-point plays in the lane by Keaun Toler and McEachin, making it 22-4. Namique Farrow's three-pointer at the horn ending the first period made it 25-13 Jackets.
Northwood settled down, and the Jacket shooting mostly cooled off, the rest of the way but the Jackets maintained at least a nine-point advantage.
"We take pride playing at home and it was good to get off to that kind of start," said Lee County head coach Reggie Peace. "You're not going to shoot like that for a whole game, but you've still got to maintain your defending and rebounding and we've got to work on that."
Watson was so hot he banked in a three-pointer from the right wing while getting fouled. He finished the four-point play for a 36-21 Jacket lead with 3:19 left in the half.
With the half running out, the Jackets ran a set play for Watson and he made a three from the left corner a couple ticks before the horn giving Lee County a 44-23 halftime lead.
In total, Lee County made seven three-pointers, including the four-point play, and three more three-point plays in the half.
Ti Pinnix and Kadarus Rone led a Charger attempt to make a game of it in the second half. Both scored five points in a 10-0 run bringing Northwood to a 46-33 deficit shortly into the third period.
The Jacket stemmed the run, but a couple Charger trips later, Pinnix drove strong to the hoop for a hoop and the fourth foul on McEachin. Pinnix made the free throw and the Chargers trailed by 12.
Toler, subbing in for McEachin, answered with two baskets on nice moves in the paint. Toler wound up scoring nine of his 12 points in the second half.
"Keaun made some big baskets when we needed him," Peace said. "We've got to keep him out of foul trouble, though."
Toler fouled out with a little more than four minutes left. McEachin fouled out with 1:29 left in the game and Lee County ahead 65-53.
The Chargers chipped to a nine-point margin a few times in the fourth quarter. Each time, Lee County found a way through Northwood's trapping efforts for baskets.
With the lead at nine, the Jackets missed two one-and-one chances at the line. Northwood couldn't get within six or seven as the clock went under a minute and, instead, Watson stole a pass at midcourt, then was fouled and made two free throws with 0:38 left.
Watson had seven rebounds, four steals and four assists to go with the long-range bombing.
"He was on fire and it was big to get out to a start like that," Peace said.
"Then we kind of let our guard down," he said.
Northwood is too good of a team, Peace said, to let that happen.
"They're a big, physical, rugged, but also very athletic team. We knew they'd get back in the game. We put them on the line too much, which is a credit to them, and they made the foul shots and stayed in the game," Peace said.
Pinnix scored 17 of his 22 points in the second half and the Charger point guard had five rebounds and four steals. Rone had 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals.
McEachin scored 16 points and got eight boards while Toler added 12 points. Hunter Jackson scored seven points and Farrow had five points.
Lee County will play former Tri-Nine Conference foe Cary (7-3) in the Classic championship game at 8 p.m. Monday.
The Imps edged Carrboro 60-56, in a game which went down to the final seconds, in Friday's opening round, then defeated East Chapel Hill 60-45 earlier Saturday evening.
Northwood will play East Chapel Hill in the third-place game at 4 p.m. Monday.