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WEST CHARLOTTE VS. RALEIGH MILLBROOK, 4A BOYS FINAL
-- West Charlotte has a huge crowd at the game, Lions from the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s. Former star basketball player Thad Bonapart, who won two state championships in Chapel Hill in 1991 and '92 is among the crowd.
-- West Charlotte wearing its maroon uniforms and 6-8 sophomore Kennedy Meeks looks like an the Empire State Building dropped into Concord walking out for warmups and the captains meeting. He towers over Millbrook.
-- The Lions wore their maroon uniforms for their 1999 state championship win and then coach Gosnell White wore a tan suit. Current Lions coach Baronton Terry is in a tan suit and West Charlotte wears maroon....if you're into omens.
-- Lions lead 13-8 after first quarter but West Charlotte is struggling on offense. The Lions defense held Millbrook without a field goal for more than half the first quarter. Jacoby Davis, the Lions leading scorer, has two fouls but is still on the floor.
-- With Davis on the bench, West Charlotte advances its lead to 36-19 at halftime. Reserve Mark Blackmon hit a few big 3s and Mike Brown hit another with less than five seconds left. Millbrook is scoring just over one point per minute in the 16-minute first half
-- Halftime stats: West Charlotte shooting 52.2 percent and Millbrook shooting 22.9 and 0-for-6 on 3-point shots. Kennedy Meeks has 9 points and 10 rebounds for the Lions and Mike Brown has 11 points and six assists.
EAST RUTHERFORD VS. NORTHWOOD, 2A BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP
-- In pregame the height differential is noticeable. East Rutherford has one started taller than 6-foot: 6-31/2 senior Devince Boykins. Northwood has four: 6-2 guard Juan Young, 6-5 forward John Wieldnad, 6-5 guard Chris Forbes and 6-6 forward Antonio Farmer. And the first two players off the bench for Northwood are 6-4 forward Brandon Williams and 6-6 guard Mark Goods
-- East Rutherford looking bad early down 10-5 until Devince Boykins, one of the best athletes I've seen in awhile, throws down a wicked one handed dunk that gets a huge -- HUGE -- East crowd going. East's shots start going in and it ties Northwood at 15 to start the second. Right now, all the momentum is with East
-- East struggling from the floor, making just 37.5 percent of its shots. Normally a good 3-point team, East is 3-for-12. Worse star forward Devince Boykins (8 points, 3 rebounds) picked up his third foul in final minute of first half. Extra worse, East cannot stop Northwood guard Juan Young (13 points)
-- East Rutherford rallied all throughout the season to win close games and rallied in the fourth quarter to win this one. East did it without star Devince Boykins playing much of the third, but he came through in the fourth with a pair of fierce dunks and some free throws in a 58-56 win. East only made 3-of-8 free throws in the final minute but played superior defense to hang onto a six point lead and win the 2A state final
-- Eastern most outstanding player Juan Young (15 points 5 assists); Western most outstanding player T.J. Watkins (13 points, 5 rebounds). Charlie Adams Championship MVP Devince Boykins (16 points, 9 rebounds)
SALISBURY VS. EAST BLADEN, 2A GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP
-- The first thing you noticed about the girls 2A championship game between Salisbury and East Bladen was Salisbury was just so much faster. Salisbury had won the past two championships, one of them against East Bladen, and the Hornets consistently beat East Bladen down the floor.
-- Love the older Salisbury fan who sits courtside playing his trumpet.
-- Most teams are nervous when they get to the state finals, at least a little. You're playing at the Smith Center, a big gym and in front of a big crowd. But no Salisbury. Before the start of the second quarter, during a TV timeout, Ashia Holmes started dancing beside the official at midcourt as they waited to inbound the ball. She had the biggest grin. Of course it helped that Salisbury was leading 21-10 at the time.
-- Trailing by double-digits margins most of the game, East Bladen girls coach Patty Evers stuck in little used reserve Melissa Macon, a strong shooter. Macon averages less than three points per game but she made 3-of-4 3-point attempts in the second quarter -- in a three-minute span -- to get her team back in the game. Down 35-26 with less than a minute, however, Salisbury got a jump shot from Jessica Helig then a steal and layin from Ashia Holmes for a 39-26 comfortable halftime lead.
-- Salisbury 6-4 freshman guard Brielle Blair is going to be a big problem for the rest of North Carolina for the next three seasons. She may be the best player on the best girls team in state. Blair had a game-high 20 points and two rebounds.
-- What Salisbury did to East Bladen's defense was clinical. The Hornets ran them on the fast break and East's players were tugging at their shorts in the first quarter. When Salisbury built a lead, East Bladen had to abandon its zone defense and play man-to-man, and the Hornets guards -- namely Ashia (10 points, 10 rebounds, 7 steals, 4 assists) and Ayanna Holmes (8 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, 6 steals) -- made sure to find the mismatch where bigger Salisbury players were matched up with smaller East players in the post. Salisbury outscored East Bladen 28-8 in the first half in points in the paint. That advantage remained in the second half. Salisbury outscored East 58-14 in the paint for the game.
-- The Eastern MVP was Jazmine Kemp was East Bladen (12 points, 8 rebounds). The Western MVP was Ashia Holmes (10 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 steals). The Kay Yow championship MVP was freshman Brielle Blair (20 points, 2 rebounds)
-- In closing, let me say this: this is one of the five best girls basketball teams I've ever seen. I would take this Salisbury team against any 2A girls team in history. This season, a full strength Butler was better, but the Bulldogs lost two starters -- one to injury and one to suspension -- and there's no doubt who the best team is now. I'd like to see Salisbury play NCISAA 3A state champ Providence Day, but I don't think there's anybody else in the state that can play with them.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
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