Southern Nash guard Damien Bryant reacts following a made 3-pointer against Rocky Mount High on Friday during the Big East Conference Championship game at Wilson Fike High School.

Telegram photo / Adam Jennings

Southern Nash guard Damien Bryant reacts following a made 3-pointer against Rocky Mount High on Friday during the Big East Conference Championship game at Wilson Fike High School.

STORYLINES: Five teams remain after wild first round

Josh Walfish

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Everyone is still trying to catch their breath after an exciting first round on Tuesday. Despite some close calls, we had to say goodbye to six teams whose season came to an end.

But we still have five teams left in the hunt for a state title tonight as the second round tips off. Here's what you need to know about the five matchups.

GIRLS

NO. 13 ERWIN TRITON AT NO. 4 NASH CENTRAL

LAST TIME OUT: Robbi Allen stepped up in a big way Tuesday, scoring 22 points to help lead the Bulldogs to a win over West Brunswick in the opening round. The Bulldogs were without starting point guard Michaela Nelms on Tuesday, and her potential return tonight will help bolster an offense that committed 18 turnovers in the victory.

ABOUT THE HAWKS: Erwin Triton defeated conference rival South Johnston in the first round to improve to 18-7 this season. Je'nae Harvey exploded for 28 points, but the more dangerous player might be forward Tarica Worney, who scored 16 points and collected 13 rebounds.

KEY TO VICTORY: The Bulldogs' success this season has stemmed from the underrated effort from Caresha Leonard and Rebecca Speight. The pair must limit the number of second chance opportunities Worney earns and let their teammates find ways to slow down Harvey.

PREDICTION: Nash Central

NO. 14 RM HIGH AT NO. 3 ROCKINGHAM CO.

LAST TIME OUT: The Gryphons started fast Tuesday and never took their foot off the pedal in defeating Lee County at home. Keyanna Spivey was once again played a major factor with 22 points, but Rocky Mount High was able to limit the Yellow Jackets' guards and not allow them to make a difference.

ABOUT THE COUGARS: Rockingham County beat Eden Morehead in the first round by dominating the paint. The Cougars' three forwards scored 66 of the team's 70 points led by Macy Boler, who scored 27 points and secured 20 rebounds.

KEY TO VICTORY: Rocky Mount High has the better guards, but it has a lack of depth in the frontcourt. Spivey needs to stay out of trouble and get some help defensively against some very talented forwards.

PREDICTION: Rockingham County

NO. 16 N. NASH AT NO. 1 FAYETTEVILLE TERRY SANFORD

LAST TIME OUT: Northern Nash played with a chip on its shoulder in the first half Tuesday and jumped out to what turned out to be an insurmountable lead over Swansboro. However, the Knights did not finish well in the second half, particularly on offense where they just got bogged down in their halfcourt sets and did not convert the chances they did earn.

ABOUT THE BULLDOGS: Fayetteville Terry Sanford had very little trouble with Southern Wayne in the first round, connecting on nine 3-pointers. The Bulldogs normally rely on 6-foot-1 Ona Udoh (14 points and 12 rebounds per game) for offense, so the outside shooting was a new wrinkle.

KEY TO VICTORY: Northern Nash must execute on offense as well as it did in the first half against Swansboro. As good as their defense might be, the Knights cannot rely solely on fastbreak points to defeat the top seed.

PREDICTION: Terry Sanford

NO. 16 SW EDGECOMBE AT NO. 1 E. BLADEN

LAST TIME OUT: SouthWest Edgecombe came out of the gates strong in the second half, overturning an eight-point halftime deficit to lead by six at the end of the third quarter. The effort in the second half is the type of performance that makes the Cougars a difficult team to beat, but the slow start had to be concerning for coach Sandra Langley.

ABOUT THE EAGLES: East Bladen remained unbeaten with an easy victory over St. Pauls. The Eagles are winning games by an average of 31 points this season behind 22 points per game from Lacey Suggs, who scored 24 in the first-round victory.

KEY TO VICTORY: SouthWest Edgecombe averages 20 turnovers per game and East Bladen averages 19 steals per game. The Eagles are good enough as is without wasting possessions with mindless turnovers that only lead to easy baskets.

PREDICTION: East Bladen

BOYS'

NO. 9 E. WAYNE AT NO. 8 S. NASH

LAST TIME OUT: As Firebirds coach Robbie Kennedy said after the game, at this point in the season no one cares how you win. Chris Lucas' steal and three-point play with 5.6 seconds left lifted Southern Nash to victory in what was the type of gritty game one expects in the playoffs.

ABOUT THE WARRIORS: Eastern Wayne hit some big free throws late to survive Northern Vance in the first round. The Warriors are 6-20 this season, and had not beaten a team with a winning record before Tuesday night.

KEY TO VICTORY: It is rare for the Firebirds to have success when Marquise Wright struggles, so Southern Nash must find ways to allow him to make an impact on the game.

PREDICTION: Southern Nash

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