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Vipers eliminated by South Granville

Feb. 23—CREEDMOOR — The South Granville Vikings eliminated the Vance County Vipers from playoff contention winning 92-39 on Tuesday night — ending the Vipers' season in the first round of the Northern Lakes Conference Tournament.

With the loss, the Vipers (8-16) finished with the second-worst record in the conference (2-12) and ended the year losing 10 of their last 12 games.

"I'm disappointed by the effort," said Vance County head coach Chad Wilson. "This is the first team I've had that regressed during the season instead of getting better."

In their final game, the Vipers looked shellshocked from the start against South Granville, finishing the first quarter down 28-10. Then, a careless pass from Taeshawn Alston gave the ball back to the Vikings to start the second quarter.

Sloppy ball handling continued for the Vipers and South Granville freshman KJ Terry capitalized with a high floater off the glass. After a charge on Zahbir Goggins, Vance County gave the ball back to the Vikings down 30 points.

With their season dwindling, Damien Jones slashed through the lane and scored a layup to cut the lead to 30, but the struggles continued. Smelling blood, the Vikings kept raining threes from outside, and the Vipers were unable to connect offensively as they committed their second charge of the quarter.

Jones collected the offense down 55-18, urging his co-guard Jamaal Torrence to slow it down. The offense, orchestrated by Jones, conjured up a Ty'liik Henderson three that same possession — but the Vipers' defense could barely stop a nosebleed.

It was halfway through the second quarter, and South Granville had scored over 60 points in just 14 minutes of play. With under two minutes left in the half, Wilson sent in his JV starters. The first half closed with the score 63-22.

Down 41 points with two quarters remaining in the first round of the conference tournament, the Vipers realistically had 16 minutes of running time remaining in their season. As the season winded down, all the seniors could do is watch their younger counterparts and reflect on a long high school career.

Halfway through the third quarter, the Vipers were down 50 points.

Vikings sophomore Jae'Shaun Alston went up contesting a Zahbir Goggins layup attempt and crashed into the floor hard after committing the foul. With the running clock, the third quarter ended shortly after Goggins went one for two from the line. With the massive blowout in tow, even the referees looked uninterested, with one standing with his hands in his pocket during the break.

In the fourth quarter, it was more JV buckets, with Damon Heggie Jr. getting it started with the and-one — earning approval from his athletic director, Phil Weil.

With barely four minutes to go, down 51 points in a playoff game, a welcome sight was Eugene "Ernest" Gulley checking into the ball game. Immediately, Gulley received the pass in the corner and uncorked a wild three-ball over the rim. But on his subsequent attempts, he began to get closer and closer.

After the free throws, with the running clock, Gulley had under three minutes to get a bucket — at this point most of the crowd was cheering him on. In the final minute, after his third or fourth field goal attempt, the Vipers corralled his rebound and looked for Gulley in the lane. The entire Vikings' five froze and allowed Gulley the open layup — which he converted for two points.

"We saw pretty quickly what was going on," said South Granville head coach Jake Wohlfeil.

"I didn't even have to say anything," said Wohlfeil. "My kids on the floor started talking amongst themselves, and they got it. And that's what sports are about — we're proud of them."

With the Vance County boys knocked out of postseason contention, the Vipers will have to rally around the girls' varsity team in their current quest to defeat Carrboro at home Wednesday night.

On what to expect from their group next year, "hopefully a much better season," Chad Wilson said. "And at least see some kids that really want to give an effort to win games."

According to Wilson, the JV freshman starters will be the "standout players for next year."

With the prestigious Division-1 offers Taeshawn Alston has received as a five-star defensive edge-rusher, the junior is unlikely to come back for another year of high school basketball.

"With the JV guys, based on their record this year and how hard they play, I think the future is in good hands," said Wilson.