Patriot Boys Face Trinity Christian in Today's Semifinals
Pinecrest's 81-48 victory over West Montgomery on Saturday sets up one of the most intriguing Holiday in the Pines semifinal matchups in the six-year history of the boys' basketball tournament.
The undefeated Patriots (10-0) face Trinity Christian (13-3) in today's 7:30 p.m. contest at James Moore Gym. The lightning-quick Crusaders cruised past Holly Springs (3-9) 78-58, led by 30 points from sophomore Tommy McLean.
Towering Demontre Harris (6-foot-9) contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Quentin Underwood scored 23 for Holly Springs.
It will be a tough test for a Pinecrest team, bidding to win the tournament for the second year in a row.
"Trinity Christian is a game I wanted to play," Patriot coach Mike Apple said of a team that lost in the 2006 championship game to Wakefield, another of Monday's semifinal teams. "I knew they were going to be strong this year and I thought we really needed to be pushed before we start conference play again. It's kind of nice we have a day in-between to gather ourselves and rest to play on Monday."
Sparked by the effort of Evan Cole on both ends of the court, the Patriots took early command over 1-A West Montgomery (3-6). The senior forward scored eight of his team-high 12 points, and had a number of tipped balls and interceptions, as the Pats took a 39-22 halftime lead.
"It felt good," he said of his performance. "I guess coming out and getting a couple of steals right off the bat just gets you pumped up. We knocked them in the face a little bit and it took them a while to get up."
Teammates Jarrin Wooten and Julian Brewer also shared scoring honors with 12 points each. Brewer helped keep the Patriot motor running by scoring nine of his points after the intermission. Brandon Ratliff led the Warriors with 12.
"Julian is our 'X' factor," Apple said of the versatile junior. "He plays three positions and we feel real comfortable wherever we put him. The big thing with Julian is his defense is going to dictate how much he plays."
Early Saturday afternoon, the tournament almost got under way with a stunning upset. Heavily favored Wakefield, the 2004 and 2006 4-A state champions, held a 38-33 lead over Durham Academy (4-7) with about six minutes left in the game.
The Cavs, a small private school, hung in by playing a tough zone and running an offense that often ended with a bounce pass inside for an easy layup.
"It was great old-school basketball," Wakefield coach Pat Kennedy said. "It was a combination of they looked very good at it and we didn't do a good job defending it."
Later it looked like the Wolverines might pay dearly. Two threes in a row by Grant Engebretsen sparked a 20-9 rally that gave Durham a 53-47 lead with just under a minute to play in the game.
But two quick steals and a pair of missed free throws culminated in the Wolverines' Xavier Saddler-Mees driving for the tying basket in the final seconds of regulation. They then out-scored the Cavs 11-3 in the extra period.
"The way they were shooting free throws, and with no time outs, our backs were against the wall," Kennedy said. "We needed little things like that to happen."
Travion Leonard, a 6-8, 280-pound sophomore center led the winners with 16 points. Guard Antonio Stabler posted 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Saddler Mees scored all 10 of his points in the final quarter and overtime. Jordan Lawson topped the Cavs with 20 points.
Back at full-strength for the first time, Richmond Senior (4-7) defeated Overhills (6-3) 70-54 to earn the right to meet Wakefield in Monday's 6 p.m. semifinal. The Raiders were led by Lovell Joy, one of five members of the 4-AA state champion football team, who scored a game-high 23 points.
"We're still not sure what to do because we haven't been playing together," Raider coach David May said. "Yesterday was the first practice we had all year with everybody together. This was a step in the right direction."
Overhills was led by guard Miguel Harrison with 16 points in the fiercely played game. The Jags meet Durham Academy at 2 p.m. in Monday's first consolation bracket tilt. Holly Springs and West Montgomery match up at 3:30 p.m.
Apple called the attendance the best for a first day in the history of the event. Patriot seniors like Cole want to make their last Holiday in the Pines a memorable one.
"That was probably the best memory in my varsity career so far," Cole said of last year's 68-65 win over Keenan (S.C.) for the tournament title. "It would be really good to win it in my senior year -- especially back-to-back."
The tournament wraps up Tuesday with the first of three consolation games beginning at 2 p.m. The championship game is scheduled to get under way at 7:30 p.m.
West Montgomery 13 9 16 10 -- 48
Pinecrest 24 15 21 21 -- 81
West Montgomery Porter 3 0-0 6, Elkins 0 0-2 0, Shamburger 2 2-2 7, Richardson 3 0-1 6, Moore 3 0-0 7, McCauley 0 1-2 1, Christian 3 0-0 6, Ratliff 6 0-0 12, Baldwin 1 1-2 3. Totals 21 4-9 48. Pinecrest McCullough 1 2-4 4, Scales 4 0-1 9, Cole 4 4-5 12, Person 2 0-0 5, Wooten 5 2-5 12, McLaughlin 0 0-0 0, Threadgill 1 0-0 3, Allbrooks 1 0-0 2, Towns 3 0-0 6, Smith 2 0-0 6, Brewer 5 2-4 12, Elliott 1 0-0 2, Baldwin 2 4-4 8. Totals 31 14-23 81. Three-point goals: West Montgomery 2 (Shamburger, Moore); Pinecrest 5 (Smith 2, Threadgill, Scales, Person).
More like this story