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Kinston tops Tigers in area showdown

Free throws proved to be McKenzie’s downfall in a 66-53 loss to Kinston last Friday night.

The game was marred by a large number of fouls — McKenzie was called for 30 and Kinston had 32.

Because of all those fouls, McKenzie made frequent trips to the charity stripe, where they missed 30 free throws.

“If you miss 30 free throws, you’re going to get beat,” said head coach Miles Brown. “This was just one of those nights where we couldn’t do anything right.”

Kinston held a 22-15 lead at halftime, but the Tigers came out shooting in the second half and by the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs’ lead was 34-32.

However, that hot streak wore off and the Tigers went cold from the field.

Kinston led by as much as 54-37, but McKenzie fought back to make it a 10-point game with just under a minute to play, although the comeback fell short.

Emmanuel Johnson led the Tigers with 20 points.

In girls’ action, the Tigers lost to Kinston 41-37.

Following a 15-9 lead by the Bulldogs at the end of the first quarter, it seemed like Kinston would blow it open in the second quarter, but McKenzie held on and only trailed by seven at halftime.

Both teams came out slow to start the second half, but McKenzie made a run despite missing several shots from the free throw line.

The Tigers cut the lead to 34-30 with three minutes to play, but Kinston held the Tigers at bay.

A three-point play followed by a layup from Aleshia Stuckey cut the lead to 40-37 with under a minute to go, but the Tigers couldn’t find the basket again before time expired.

“I told them how proud I am that they fought hard to get the chance to win,” said head coach Ezell Powell. “We just didn’t shoot free throws well. We had solid defense and made them turn it over, though.”

“It was a great learning game,” he continued. “I thought the effort was there, and I’m proud of how we played.”

Stuckey led the Tigers with 14 points, and Anna Howell added 10.