Pungo Christian knocks off Lawrence on senior night
Published 2:08 pm Friday, February 7, 2014
In front of a packed house, senior Cole Austin Woolard, the NCISAA Tarheel Conference’s leading scorer, walked out of the Pungo Christian locker room for the final time in a Raiders uniform on Thursday. One-by-one, Headmistress Marcy Morgan announced the seniors and starting lineup, each player receiving a standing ovation from the Pungo faithful.
However, once Woolard’s name was announced on the loud speaker, it was clear who the best player on he floor was. The adoration poured from the stands in the form of resounding applause and, in some cases, shed tears.
“Cole, we’ve had him for two years…what can I say. He’s just impressive,” said Head Coach Jason Adams. “He’s more impressive off the court with his leadership. He’s the best ballplayer I’ve ever coached.”
Despite the emotional response, there was still a game to be played.
The Pungo Christian men’s basketball team had to battle for all four quarters against Lawrence to secure a 66-52 victory on senior night.
The Raiders’ starting lineup, consisting of five seniors, came out of the gate looking to avenge Tuesday’s heartbreaking loss to Hobgood. In the face of Lawrence’s intimidating duo of twin brothers, Nathaniel and Nicholas Holton, Joshua Dunbar and Hunter Sutton continuously pulled down rebounds early, dishing to Thomas Mann to jumpstart the high-powered offense.
It looked like yet another Raiders blowout through the first eight minutes, but Lawrence would not be denied in the second quarter, outscoring its opponent 20-5 and shrinking the lead to just six points at the break.
In the second half, the Warriors slowed down the tempo and executed a methodical offense, but failed to capitalize on good looks in the paint. Woolard, who had a relatively quiet first half for his standards, exploited the Warriors pace, turning Lawrence misses into Pungo points in transition.
Again, the Holton twins shrunk the lead to five points in the fourth quarter, but Woolard and Mann simply refused to lose.
Woolard challenged the Lawrence forwards over the final five minutes and forced himself to the line, where he would etch his name into Pungo history.
On his final free throw, Woolard scored his 1000th career point, an appropriate sendoff for one of the best players in school history.
“I feel like we executed pretty good tonight. Our free throw shooting was up to where we needed it to be,” Adams said. “The boys were just a lot more focused tonight. We had a lot on the line. We started out with a one-game lead and we didn’t need to drop one before going to play our rival, Terra Ceia.”
The win improved the team’s record to 18-2 on the season and locked up a first place finished in the conference standings. Woolard finished with 28 points, while Marcus Williams ended with 14.
“We’re still trying to improve. We have some things we need to work on,” Adams said. “We need to execute a little bit better on offense, clean up a few things on defense, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”