Patriots Beat Clayton; Face Terry Sanford Friday
On each of Pinecrest’s first three possessions of the second half of Wednesday’s boys’ state playoff basketball game, a Clayton player stole the ball and took it in for an unmolested dunk.
Highlight reel stuff for the Comets, but only a blip on the screen compared with an otherwise dominating performance by the Patriots at James Moore Gym. Led by 23 points and 17 rebounds from senior Faronte’ Drakeford, Coach Mike Apple’s squad rolled into the third round with a 72-51 victory.
Tonight, beginning at 7 p.m., the Patriots (24-4) entertain Terry Sanford (26-2) in a battle between No. 1 seeds. The Bulldogs are the No. 3 ranked team in the state (NCPreps media poll). The 2009 and 2010 4A state runners-up are led by standout guard and St. Joseph’s-bound Chris Wilson.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Drakeford said, after the 10th ranked Patriots won their ninth game in a row. “As long as we come out and play our game, we’ll do fine.”
Just as in Monday’s one-sided first round win over West Johnston, the Patriots used their defense to generate offense in the early going. Drakeford picked up two of his five steals in the game to help them jump out to a 15-4 lead.
Adam Parrish tried to rally the Comets with three second-quarter treys, one of them from about 30 feet away, but the home side was still able to take a comfortable 35-22 lead into halftime.
“I thought we did a great job of maximizing our possessions with the exception of the strange first 56 seconds of the third quarter,” Apple said. “Whatever I told them at halftime, I’m going to forget that one.”
The Comets’ Adonis Banks, Gary Clark and then Banks again stole the ball near mid-court and converted the three dunks in a row, making it 35-28. Apple called a timeout. The Patriot response was consecutive threes by Phillip Wallace and Antonio Jones, taking the margin back to double digits at 41-28.
“The timeout helped us get our heads back on straight,” Drakeford said. “We did a good job keeping our composure.”
The 6-foot-6 Drakeford and 5-10 Damion Pride both did a lot of damage on the offensive boards. The lead grew to 57-42, when Pride somehow came away with the ball among the trees, put it back up and turned it into a three-point play. The margin reached 20 when Drakeford finished one off with just under four minutes left in the game.
“I just scrap in there with them,” Pride said of a six rebound night that included four at the offensive end. “They’re big and I try to be big with them.”
Wallace had an outstanding floor game that included five assists. He scored 12 of his 19 points, including 6-for-6 at the foul line, in the final period. Other scoring leaders for the Patriots were Pride with nine points and Traivon Williams with eight. Tyrek McLaughlin was a big contributor on defense with four steals.
Clayton, the second seed from the Greater Neuse River Conference, ended its season with a record of 19-7. Parish led the Comets with 12 points.
In addition to Pinecrest and Terry Sanford, the other three Friday pairings in the East Region have New Hanover (21-5) at Garner (26-0), East Chapel Hill (22-7) at Wakefield (24-3) and Millbrook (19-9) at Jordan (18-9). The four winners advance to the regional rounds next week at the Crown Coliseum and Crown Arena in Fayetteville.
Contact Charlie Bergmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pinecrest 72, Clayton 51
Clayton 6 16 15 14 51
Pinecrest 15 20 15 22 72
Clayton – Gaskins 2 0-0 5, Terry 1 0-0 2, Clark 3 5-6 11, Dyer 0 1-2 1, Morrison 3 0-0 6, Parrish 4 0-0 12, Banks 5 1-2 11, Dixon 0 2-2 2, Medlin 0 1-2 1, Pickett 0 0-0 0, Clayton 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-14 51. Pinecrest –Wallace 6 6-6 19, Drakeford 10 3-3 23, Pride 4 1-1 9. M. Smith 2 1-2 5, Jones 3 0-0 7, Williams 3 1-2 8, McLaughlin 0 0-0 0, Wilson 0 0-0 0. Cummings 0 1-2 1, Barnes 0 0-0 0, Scales 0 0-0 0, J. Smith 0 0-0 0, Painter 0 0-0 0, Tolson 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 13-16 72. Three-point goals: (C) 5 (Parrish 4, Gaskins); (P) 3 (Wallace, Jones, Williams).
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