The eight N.C. High School Athletic Association East regional high school basketball finals were held Saturday at Fayetteville State and East Carolina.
Next Saturday’s 4A and 2A championship games will be at UNC’s Dean Smith Center, while the 3A and 1A games will be at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum.
Even without East Carolina recruit Jayden Gardner, who fouled out late in the fourth quarter, third-seeded Heritage is heading to its first state championship game. The Huskies downed previously undefeated No. 4 South Central 61-55 in overtime of the 4A East final.
Heritage (25-4) made its free throws and got key stops against the Falcons (27-1) in the four-minute extra period. The Huskies got 21 points and eight rebounds from Gardner, an East Carolina recruit, and 17 points and six rebounds from Virginia Tech recruit Jarren McCallister.
But where Heritage hit South Central the hardest was by not turning the ball over – the Huskies had just 11 for the game – and hitting the boards hard. The Huskies out-rebounded the Falcons 35-34 by crashing the boards with all five players. That limited what Heritage could do in transition, but it kept the game at the pace it preferred.
Heritage will play No. 2 Independence in the title game next Saturday at the Dean Smith Center.
“I’m just so excited for our team and how far we’ve come as a program,” Heritage coach Tilden Brill III said.
South Central, which was making its second straight appearance in the East final, was led by Shykeim Phillips’ 17 points and Day’ron Sharpe’s 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
“We had a fine season. We won’t let one game define our season, but at the same time, it’s disappointing to get back to the same point,” Falcons coach Chris Cherry said. “We just didn’t rebound the basketball. ... They punished us on the backboard.”
Top-seeded and unbeaten Southeast Raleigh (30-0) is returning to a second straight state title game with a 55-39 win over Laney (28-2) of Wilmington on Saturday night at Fayetteville State.
Southeast’s Anya Poole posted a double-double of 16 points with 18 rebounds along with two assists and a blocked shot. The 6-foot-2 sophomore, with a first-half double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, carried the team when it struggled to score early.
“I didn’t want this season end like last year without a title,” Poole said. “I knew I had to dominate on the boards.”
Tamia Davis added 12 points, and Jada McMillian scored six of her nine total points at crucial moments in the second half. Her coast-to-coast layup with 7:14 remaining was good for a 43-35 lead, and a driving layup with 4:21 play bumped the lead to 12 points, 49-37.
Laney freshman Saniya Rivers scored 21 points with 11 rebounds. The 16-point victory follows three previous wins by margins of 24, 29 and 31 points.
Following a 32-1 season last year as state runner-up, Southeast is now 62-1 the past two seasons. The Bulldogs will play either Mallard Creek or Northwest Guilford in the title game.
Tom Shanahan contributed.
Make it 58 wins and counting for top-seeded Northside High out of Jacksonville.
The Monarchs, which won the 2A state title last year, defeated reigning East champ No. 3 Eastern Guilford 73-71 despite 62.9 percent shooting from the Wildcats (27-2) and 39 points from Montez Venable.
Kenny Dye led Northside (28-0) with 23 points. The Monarchs will play defending 3A champ Cox Mill in the final next Saturday at Reynolds Coliseum.
No. 1 overall seed Jacksonville defeated conference foe Havelock, the 10-seed, 58-45 in the 3A East final.
It was the second year in a row that the Cardinals (23-3) reached the East final, falling in it a year ago to Northern Guilford, and third time defeating the Rams (23-3) this season. Havelock won the conference tournament title against Jacksonville, but lost two regular season contests.
Jacksonville will face Northern Guilford (which was in the West bracket this season) at Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday in the state title.
Greene Central is going to the boys’ basketball championship for the first time.
The ninth-seeded Rams defeated No. 2 Clinton 61-57, atoning for a loss in last year’s 2A East final to Northside. Greene Central led 20-13 at halftime, playing a deliberate pace to slow down the uptempo Dark Horses (27-2).
“It was more of a calm. Last year, we were just excited to be here,” Rams coach Charles Harris said.
Greene Central junior Imajae Dodd had 12 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the win, while Donte Johnson and Rhaheem Edwards had 16 points each. The Rams (26-6) will play Forest Hills, a 2-seed from the West, in the state title next Saturday at the Dean Smith Center.
Third-seeded North Pitt knocked off No. 1 Kinston by a 71-51 score to win the 2A East final for the second time in three years. North Pitt won the 2016 state title, led by then-MVP and now-senior Nyjanique Langley. Fellow senior Casandra Watson (9 points) was also part of that championship team.
Langley had 41 points (21 of 25 from the free throw line), 21 coming in the fourth quarter, to lead all scorers on Saturday.
“We had to get some movement. We couldn’t just stand around and watch (Langley) play. As long as we were moving, we were fine,” North Pitt coach William Knight said.
North Pitt (25-5) will take on fellow 3-seed North Wilkes in the title game next Saturday at the Dean Smith Center, the same site as the Panthers’ 2016 title over East Davidson.
Kinston (29-2), which starts four sophomores and has only two seniors, got 22 points from Danielle Heath.
“The biggest thing is to learn from it and move forward,” coach Christopher Bradshaw said. “We just really couldn’t get in a rhythm.”
Rocky Mount Prep’s quest for an unbeaten season and state title both came to an end when the top-seeded Jaguars fell to No. 3 Pamlico County in the 1A East final, 82-57.
Rocky Mount Prep (25-1) took an 18-11 first-quarter lead, but turnovers and poor three-point shooting plagued the Jaguars the rest of the way. RMP had 11 first-half turnovers and 21 for the game. The Jaguars hit only 2-of-20 three-point field goals in all after they were 2-of-11 in the first half.
Pamlico County (22-5) finished the game’s final 4:36 with a 20-2 run. The Hurricanes will play Winston-Salem Prep in the 1A final.
Kalil Baker led Rocky Mount Prep with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Keyshawn Bryant added 13 points and eight rebounds. Five Pamlico County players scored in double figures, led by 20 from Lamont Murray.
“I’m extremely proud of my guys,” RMP coach Jolly Manning said. “This is the best group of guys I’ve had, and I’ve been at the school 13 years now. These guys work hard in the classroom and on the basketball court. My guys don’t like losing, so they’re taking this kind of hard.”
Tom Shanahan contributed.
No. 1 Pamlico County defeated No. 10 Weldon 68-51 to head back to its second straight championship game and will play Mount Airy in the 1A title.
The Hurricanes (26-1) got 28 points from Jainaya Jones to hold off the Chargers (22-3), who were led by Skylah Travis’ 13 points and 12 rebounds.