BY NICK DENNING
Wilmington, NC - Cape Fear women's basketball were crowned NJCAA Region 10 regular season champions by defeating Clinton Junior College 86-51. Destiny Campbell recorded her second straight triple-double, totaling 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 blocks. Jalessa Dillard led the team in points with 17.
It was sophomore night for the Sea Devils, who honored four sophomores -- Destiny Campbell, TaKwana Bland, Nikia Wallace, and Jenna Pecorini.
Despite the final score, they got off to a slow start, scoring just four points in the first four minutes. While they led 4-0 during the early stretch, Clinton eventually went on a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the game. Cape Fear re-took the lead following a timeout, but a 3-pointer by the Golden Bears gave them the lead once again.
The game remained tight for a couple of minutes, but the Sea Devils ended the quarter strong on a 9-2 run to take a 17-11 lead.
After starting slow, Campbell put together a good first quarter, totaling six points, five blocks, and three rebounds.
Cape Fear maintained their lead into the second quarter, holding Clinton to just four points in the first five minutes. Their offense started clicking on the other end, and they were able to take an 11 point lead following a made layup by Campbell. She continued to be a force, scoring 10 points to push her total to 16 for the half.
The Sea Devils continued to build on their lead as the half ended. They pressed the Golden Bears full court, which helped force 11 turnovers, and end the half with a 41-24 lead.
Clinton flirted with a comeback to start the second half, but Cape Fear wouldn't allow it, and went up by 21 with four minutes remaining in the third. Christina Caesar scored six in the quarter to push total to double digits, while Taylor Foulks was active on the boards. They continued to extend their lead, and a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Jalessa Dillard gave them a 68-40 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Campbell entered the fourth one rebound and two blocks shy of her second consecutive triple double. The rebound came early, but the blocks were harder to come by, as Clinton attempted mostly jumpshots. But the opportunities came, and she recorded her 10th block on her final play of the game.
Having not seen the box score, head coach Lori Drake was surprised to learn Campbell had recorded her second straight triple-double, and says its very important that she is playing this well heading into the regional tournament.
"It's huge for us. To have a triple-double and only play 28 minutes is pretty impressive."
But Drake believes it's not just Campbell playing well right now, and pointed to the improved play of Caesar and Dillard as reasons to feel good about how they are playing, but acknowledged that Campbell's play is exciting.
It was commanding win for the Sea Devils, who earned the honor of finishing as regular season champions, a feat Drake says is the culmination of the goals they set out for back at the start of the season.
"It feels great. It's interesting, when you start the season in November, you say, 'Hey, its long term, its long term, what are we working for long term?' Well, [the answer is March], and it's here, and I really think we are peaking at the right time."
The regular season title was never guaranteed to them, and coach Drake believes their focus the past couple of weeks helped ensure them first place.
"We have worked hard over the last three weeks to hold this, so we're really excited about it."
The Sea Devils finished the regular season with a record of 24-4, and a conference record of 16-2.