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KINSTON — Beddingfield got some shots up early, but Kinston showed why the postseason road goes through Vikings Gym on Tuesday.
The Vikings, seeded No. 1 in the East Region of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A boys basketball playoffs, defeated the No. 32 Bruins 74-48 in the first round. Kinston (21-4), the Eastern Carolina Conference champion, started to pull away midway through the second and never looked back, combating Beddingfield’s perimeter shots with a strong inside presence.
“We couldn’t stop them inside,” Bruins head coach Joe Dvozenja said. “I’m proud of the way the guys fought and that was one of our best games of the year. We just got outmuscled.”
Tobias Cooper and Octavius Lacey had a combined five 3-pointers in the first half for Beddingfield. While the Bruins (9-14), the No. 4 team from the Eastern Plains Conference, never led, they tied the Vikings thrice, including 16-16 with 6:38 in the second on a Lacey perimeter shot. Kinston would counter with a 16-2 run to take control, eventually going into the half ahead 34-23.
“We knew their record wasn’t indicative of the way they play,” Vikings coach Perry Tyndall said. “They’re a very talented and athletic team. We knew we had the advantage inside and when we attacked their zone good things started to happen. It took us a while to figure it out, but we did against a very scary No. 32 seed.”
Beddingfield never got within single digits in the second half as Kinston flexed its interior muscle. Reginald Clark was a big factor, scoring nine of his game-high 21 points in the third, including a putback as time expired to give Kinston a 58-37 lead heading into the fourth.
“Coach told us they didn’t have the size to match us,” Clark said. “My teammates kept feeding me the ball and I had to eat.”
The Vikings kept the momentum in the fourth, pushing their advantage to 26.
“We came out flat in the first half and we were able to step it up,” Kinston guard Dontrez Styles said. “It feels good to get the win and now we have to get ready for the next game.”
Although the season is over for Beddingfield, Dvozenja said he’s more than optimistic for the future.
“I did have three freshmen and three sophomores on varsity this year, so we’re going to work on getting better throughout the summer,” he said. “We’ll hit the weight room, get stronger and be ready for next season. I’m proud of these guys.”
Styles scored 12 points and Damian Dunn added 10 for Kinston, while Beddingfield’s Cooper poured in 17 and Lacey added 15.
Cooper 17, Lacey 15, Best 8, Wilder 4, Artis 2, Wooten 2
Clark 21, Styles 12, Dunn 10, Minott 8, Pearsall 8, McBynum 6, Moore 5, Parson 3, Walters 1
Score by quarters:
Beddingfield 10 13 14 11 — 48
Kinston 12 22 24 16 — 74