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Late game scoring streak leads to McKenzie win

GEORGIANA – Down 20-19 to Kinston at halftime in the Class 1A, Area 3 championship game, McKenzie head coach Miles Brown gave his team a simple message:

Take it to the basket.

The Tigers did just that, taking 10 trips to the foul line in the final period of play and turned a close game into a double-digit victory, 59-46.

Leading 36-34 at the end of the third period, the Tigers outscored Kinston 23-12 in the fourth.

“I think in the first half we sort of wore them down,” said Brown. “I just told the guys at the half to just keep going to the goal…go to the goal. We wanted to make them foul us and put us on the line and that’s what happened.”

The fourth period aside, Monday’s game was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout. Kinston claimed the halftime lead after a bank-shot by McKenzie’s Calvin Henderson at the buzzer was ruled no-basket by officials.

Cliff Pugh’s three foul shots and a pair of baskets by both Armond Ball and Emmanuel Johnson allowed the Tigers kept the game close in the third period. Sir Wallace Presley’s steal and layup gave McKenzie the two-point advantage at the end of the period.

The Tigers only connected on four field goals in the fourth, but did the most damage after being fouled. 15 of the Tigers’ final 23 points came from the free throw line.

Pugh had 19 points to lead the Tigers. Johnson added 11 points. Henderson scored seven.

With the victory, the Tigers secured a sub-regional game at home. However, just as was the case with the area tournament, (non-regulation sized gymnasium at McKenzie High School), the Tigers will host the game at Butler County Magnet School on Friday.

McKenzie plays Ariton, 71-54 losers to Brantley, at 6 p.m.