OCEAN — The East Carteret boys basketball team captured a share of the 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference regular season championship Friday with a 62-41 win at Croatan.
The Mariners (17-3 overall) only led 27-23 at halftime but pulled away in the third quarter to end their regular season with 13 straight wins.
“It’s a testament to the kind of players we have on the team,” East coach Daniel Griffee said. “It was senior night, and we were down a starter with Henry Tillett out sick, but these guys picked their teammates up and finished. They wanted it, and you could tell.”
Check out video of the game here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m6Tt3HVixE
East finished the regular season tied with Pender at 13-1 for the top spot in the Coastal 8. The two 1A programs met last week and drew from a hat for the top seed in the conference tournament this week.
Pender won, earning it a matchup Southwest Onslow (0-14). Croatan (9-13 overall, 6-8 conference) will visit Lejeune 7-7 on Monday for the first round.
The first contest between Croatan and East finished with a 29-point scoring margin, but that was hardly the case Friday. The Cougars went punch for punch in the chippy game for two quarters before the Mariners pulled away in the second half on the heels of Bennie Brooks’ game-high 31 points.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Croatan coach Jeff Hawkins said. “I thought they played well. A couple of shots go down, and we hit some free throws. It would have been different. But as far as effort? I couldn’t have asked for more. We were underdogs, and I didn’t feel like we looked that way for most of the game.”
Croatan’s top scorers in the game were Major Hawkins with 13 points, Jack Riley nine and Dustin Hayden and Andrew Mendolia seven apiece.
Other notable scorers for East were Caleb Hymon with 13 points and Perry Austin eight.
Here are results of the game:
East Carteret... 16 11 18 17-62
Croatan........... 13 10 7 11-41
EAST CARTERET (62) – Brooks 31, Hymon 13, Austin 8, Jernigan 3, Rose 3, Nelson 2, Shelton 2.
CROATAN (41) – Hawkins 13, Riley 9, Hayden 7, Mendolia 7, Dillahunt 3, Crow 2.