Patriots Get Past First Round
The Pinecrest boys made enough big plays and free throws in a pressure-packed fourth quarter at Cape Fear Tuesday evening to advance to the second round of the state 4-A basketball playoffs.
After exploding to a 21-4 first-quarter lead, the Patriots bent, but wouldn't break, as the Colts cut the margin to one point several times in the second half. It wasn't until Jarrin Wooten made a pair of free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining in the game that the 64-59 victory was secured.
Josh Scales helped the Patriots get off to a flying start by scoring 10 of his team-high 15 points in the first period. Phillip Moultrie scored 14 in the game, and Wooten contributed 11 to go with 15 rebounds.
"This was a playoff game in a playoff atmosphere and we got the job done," Pinecrest coach Mike Apple said over the sounds from a happy Patriot locker room. "I'm real proud of the players, and they're real proud of themselves."
The Patriots (19-7) traveled to Middle Creek (25-2) for a 7 p.m. contest on Thursday.
The dazzling 21-4 start that was capped by Scales' second three of the period was a surprise to Wooten.
"Honestly, we're really not known for starting off as fast as we did," the junior said. "Then we made a couple of bad mistakes and dumb turnovers."
Moments later, leading 23-6, the Patriots gave almost all of it back during a 15-0 Colts' run that extended into the second quarter. Sparking the Colt rally was forward Vernon Payne, who finished the game with 21 points.
"I told the guys that the first quarter was awesome," Apple said. "Then gosh, we got stuck on '23' for how long? It seemed like an eternity."
Moultrie broke the drought with a spin move for two. A few minutes later, he capped an 8-0 run with a dunk for a 31-21 lead. The margin was 36-29 at halftime.
Cape Fear coach John Lucchino had seen his team overcome a 19-point deficit in a victory over Lumberton.
"It was a physical game, you could tell that," the coach of the second-seeded team from the Two Rivers Conference said. "It was a matter of could we raise our level on defense? Could we match what they were bringing?"
Early in the third period, his team was doing just that. Held scoreless for the first four minutes, the Patriot lead was 36-35 when Carlton Rhone broke the spell with a jumper. He and Dee McRae each made two more baskets, helping the Patriots take a 47-44 advantage into the final eight minutes.
A steal by Moultrie at the top of the Colt key, followed by a solo jaunt for a dunk, made it 49-44. The Patriot edge ranged from five points to one the rest of the way. A three by Blake Smith made it 58-52, but a tip by Demontre Harris at the two-minute mark had the home team agonizingly close again at 58-57.
A couple of missed front ends of one-and-one opportunities at the foul line by the Patriots later, Payne went coast-to-coast after grabbing one of the misses and scored, making it 61-59 with 26.2 seconds remaining. Seconds later, Payne missed a shot that would have tied the game.
Allbrooks grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made the first free throw. His second attempt was long, but he got a piece of the rebound and was tied up with the possession arrow in favor of the Patriots. Wooten was then fouled and made the clinching free throws.
Losers of five of their previous seven games, Apple saw signs at practice on Monday, and during Tuesday's shoot-around, that his team was excited to be in the state playoffs.
"I just have to credit it to the guys, especially the seniors," Wooten said. "This is their last time around, and they didn't want it to end up with a bad taste in their mouths."
Moultrie's night included nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Allbrooks was the Patriot assist leader with five. Cape Fear completed its season with a record of 17-10.
Pinecrest 23 13 11 17 -- 64
Cape Fear 14 15 15 15 -- 59
Pinecrest -- Galberth 0 0-0 0, Scales 4 5-6 15, Moultrie 7 0-0 14, Smith 2 2-3 8, Wooten 3 5-7 11, Allbrooks 0 4-8 4, Rhone 3 0-0 6, McRae 3 0-0 6, Person 0 0-0 0, Kropp 0 0-0 0, Smetana 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 22 16-24 64.
Cape Fear -- Mace 0 0-0 0, Christopher 3 1-1 8, Virgil 2 3-4 7, Payne 6 8-10 21, Harris 7 0-0 14, Hampton 1 0-0 2, Whitted 1 2-2 5, Edmonds 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 21 14-17 59.
Three-point goals: Pinecrest 4 (Scales 2, Smith 2); Cape Fear 3 (Payne, Christopher, Whitted).
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