Although the temperatures hovered in the upper 30s last night in the area, things were heating up at Crawford Gymnasium on the campus of Kerr-Vance Academy. For the Lady Spartans, the heat came from an offensive onslaught that can only be described as “caliente”. For the varsity men, the warmth was directly connected to the way the pendulum swung in a close game that was ultimately decided on a thrilling buzzer beater. One thing is for sure, a huge crowd of spectators got their money’s worth and then some.
The Lady Spartans (20-6) began the night seeking a win in the first round of the NCISAA playoffs. Their opponents were the Eagles of Wayne Christian School. Coach Sandy Ross’ squad got out of the gate hot, led by the torrid shooting of junior guard Emma Hogge who netted six 3 pointers in the first quarter. The Lady Spartans turned up the heat on the Eagles with a press defense which led to more easy baskets, scoring 52 total points in the first half. From there, they continued to be aggressive and cruised to victory with the final score being 73-41.
Credit a balanced attack on offense and a solid team effort on defense that assured the outcome. Emma Hogge led all scorers with 23 points, followed by Bonnie Evans with 20, Ashley Dickerson with 16, and Cheyenne Owen with 12. Owen and Dickerson hauled in 12 and 8 boards respectively. Evans led the defense with 8 steals. Abi Harrelson, 13 points, and Payton Jackson, 8 points led Wayne Christian School in scoring. The Lady Spartans move on in the state playoffs, hitting the road to take on Trinity Christian School of Fayetteville, Thursday February 15 at 6 pm.
In the nightcap, the undefeated CIC Champions had their hands full with an athletic, well-coached Wayne Christian team. The hot shooting in the girl’s game did not carry over to the varsity boy’s contest. This one was a grinder from start to finish. It was a tight game throughout and you could feel the tension growing in the stands as the game progressed. The Spartans got a boost in the first quarter from center Fermin Borbua whose rebounding, scoring, and defense was key at the outset of the game. At the half, however, Wayne Christian held a 42-36 lead behind the shooting of Darrian Oates, 15 points and Jayden Young, 11 points.
The Spartans came out with more intensity in an effort to recapture the momentum. The teams traded baskets in the third quarter, but foul trouble became a huge problem for the Spartans. Leading scorers Michael Bowers and Andreas Wilson both played with four personals during the latter stages of the game, with Bowers eventually fouling out. The fourth quarter was highly contested and both teams played at a high level. Wilson kept the Spartans in it both with his passing and scoring. He netted 14 points and assisted on two crucial baskets to senior guard Wil Short. He and his teammates were also very active on defense coming up with loose balls when the team needed them. Wilson drew a key charge late in the game on Eagle guard Josiah Simmons.
With a minute and some change left, it appeared that the Spartans would be able to salt the game away with free throws, however, Wayne Christian’s Simmons scored on a 3 pointer and a defensive foul was assessed to Bowers away from the ball. The call resulted in a five- point swing and the Eagles led by two. After tying the game, the Spartans were whistled for another foul with 3.3 seconds on the clock. Oates stepped to the line and despite the intense noise level knocked in two free throws giving WCS a 68-66 lead. Coach Taron Downey called a timeout and set up a play. Wil Short scrambled to his right and inbounded the ball to Andreas Wilson who also optioned right and dribbled along the baseline as the clock ticked down. Wilson drained a 26 footer on the run as time expired giving the Spartans the win. Fans and players spilled out on the floor to celebrate the 69-68 win. Wilson led the Spartan attack with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and five assists. Junior Timothy Pettiford added 8 points and 14 rebounds. Borbua had 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The Spartans (25-0) advance to the second round where Statesville Christian School awaits. The game will be played on Thursday, February 15 at 6 pm in Statesville.