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CONCORD — The Cox Mill Chargers capped off a charmed run through the South Piedmont Conference tournament Friday night and now they have a first-ever championship to celebrate.
Senior guard Justin Peace banked in a half court heave at the buzzer to give the Chargers a stunning 54-53 win over favored A.L. Brown, setting off a wild celebration in Concord’s Rimer gym.
“No, I didn’t call glass on that one,” a joyous Peace said in the celebration afterwards. “I mean it seemed on target when I let it go but when I actually watched it go in that was just a crazy feeling.”
Cox Mill (17-7) came in to the SPC tourney as a unheralded fourth seed but knocked off top ranked Concord 90-85 in overtime in the semi-finals. They capped it off Friday with a determined rally in the final three minutes to break the hearts of the second seeded Wonders (19-9).
“Our defense and missed free throws down the stretch hurt us,” said Wonder head coach Shelwyn Klutz. “But that was just a tremendous shot by that young man at the end.”
The loss drops the Wonders to a third seed heading into next weeks State 3A play-offs while the surging Chargers claimed a second seed spot.
Can Kannapolis bounce back from such a stunning loss? “I sure hope we can”, Klutz said. “We have a lot of seniors so we just have to put this behind us and get ready for next week.”
The contest was tightly contested throughout with the Wonders holding a six point lead on a couple of occasions in both halfs. Cox Mill refused to fold however as they actually claimed the lead at the end of the third period 33-31 then a one point lead with just 1:40 left in the game at 46-45.
The Wonders still seemed to have the title in their sites when they surged ahead 49-46 on a lay-up by Tydus Parks and a free throw by Micheal Carr with just 34 seconds left. Two more free throws by Derrick Copeland expanded the lead to 51-47 at 22.8 seconds to go.
But the Chargers set the stage for the dramatic finish when Justin Peace hit a lay-up then his twin brother Jordan nailed another at 9 seconds to cut the lead to 52-51.
Keeon Johnson went to the line for Brown with 2.9 seconds left and hit the first free throw for a 53-31 lead. But he missed the second and the rebound went out to Peace at the halfcourt for his game winning rainbow.
“ That was a helluva shot I tell you what,” Charger coach Brad Hinson said. “That’s all you can really say. The team performed really well and really executed in the second half.”
Hinson also noted his team has evolved completely since the school first opened just four years ago and took a lot of lumps on the court. “We have gone from the bottom to the top with a championship,” he said. “So now we find out who we play next and go from there.”
The Peace twins led the winners as Jordan notched 17 and the hero Justin sank 13. The Wonders were topped by the 6-6 Parks with 14, Carr with 12 and Copeland with 10.
Justin Peace feels his Chargers are peaking at the right time. “It just shows that no matter who you are playing, if you play hard and keep grinding you can come out on top.”
COX MILL (54) —Jordan Peace 17, Justin Peace 13, Mustafa 6, Probert 6, Morgan 4, Hardy 3, Rickard 3, Opara 2, M. Johnson, D. Johnson, Simms.
A.L. BROWN (53) —Parks 14, Carr 12, Copeland 10, Johnson 7, Neal 6, Shepherd 3, Parker 1, Williamson.
Cox Mill 5 13 15 21 — 54
A.L. Brown 7 12 12 22 — 53

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