High school basketball: Salisbury girls, Carson girls, North boys, Davie boys home again for Round 3; Wonders on road
By Mike London
SALISBURY — Surviving teams have reached the third round of the basketball state playoffs. This is the Sweet 16, with eight teams left in the West and East brackets.
Not so long ago, third-round games were known as “sectional finals” — contests to determine the teams that would advance to regional play.
But that’s no longer the case. Now four rounds are played on someone’s home court before survivors advance to Hickory for regional finals.
State championships will be decided at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum and Chapel Hill’s Dean Smith Center.
As the No. 2 seed in the 2A West bracket, Salisbury’s girls are in the driver’s seat to host Round 4 against the Forbush-Wilkes Central winner, but to get there, they have to beat Surry Central tonight. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.
Carson’s girls, the No. 3 seed in the West bracket, also are home again tonight at 6 p.m. in China Grove. If Carson can get past Charlotte Catholic, it will likely mean a trip to Morganton to play No. 2 seed Freedom in Round 4. Freedom plays Asheville tonight.
North Rowan’s boys, seeded third in the 1A West bracket, play their third home game of the week tonight in Spencer, with Hayesville making a long journey from the mountains — 234 miles, mostly on !nterstate 40 — to take on the Cavaliers at 6 p.m.
If North wins tonight, it probably will have to travel for Round 4, as No. 2 seed Community School of Davidson is still alive and is favored tonight against Pine Lake Prep. Community School has beaten conference rival Pine Lake Prep three times, but all three were close.
In the 3A West bracket, A.L. Brown’s boys travel to the “TerrorDome” in Morganton tonight, where they’ll provide the opposition for Freedom in the second game of a girls/boys doubleheader. Freedom’s girls will hit the floor at 6:30 p.m., so the boys game won’t get under way until 8 p.m. or so.
Davie’s boys, the No. 4 seed in the 4A West bracket, take on Myers Park tonight at 7 p.m. at home. Davie enjoyed a first-round bye and pulled out a 63-61 home win against Hopewell in the second round. A Hopewell buzzer-beater rattled in and out.
In the 1A West bracket, North Stanly, the fourth-place finisher in the Yadkin Valley Conference and a No. 21 seed, has won twice on the road behind great performances by senior guard Bryson Childress. The Comets face a tough assignment tonight at fourth-seeded Lincoln Charter.
Salisbury’s girls are in the third round for the first time since 2012 when they beat South Iredell and West Stokes, before losing to North Surry. That was a Brielle Blaire-led squad that finished 25-4.
Salisbury (24-4) has easily handled Fred T. Foard and Madison County in the first two rounds, playing its strongest basketball since it wiped out West Rowan in the semifinals of the Dale’s Sporting Goods Sam Moir Christmas Classic.
Senior Bryanna Troutman and junior Anayia Fulson lead coach Lakai Brice’s Hornets, who are 11-0 at home this season.
Seeded 10th, Surry Central’s Golden Eagles went 10-2 for second place behind Forbush in the Western Piedmont Conference. Surry Central knocked out No. 7 seed East Rutherford in Thursday’s second round with a 35-34 upset.
Surry Central, located in Dobson, is very good defensively and has allowed only 35 points per game.
Senior Taylor Cochran averages 9.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists to lead the Golden Eagles (24-5). Sophomore Megan Atkins is the team’s best 3-point shooter and made three against East Rutherford.
Carson’s girls (26-2) also haven’t lost at home all season. Carson hasn’t lost anywhere except in the Statesville gym.
Carson’s girls are in the third round for the third time in school history and have never made it past this round.
They reached Round 3 in 2013 for the first time and were eliminated by eventual 3A champion Harding.
They also made the third round in 2018 under coach Brooke Stouder, beating Mount Tabor and Robinson, before losing to eventual 3A champion Northern Guilford. In that 56-47 loss to Northern Guilford, Carson got 37 points from Olivia Gabriel and McKenzie Gadson, but only 10 from everyone else.
Gadson leads this edition of the Cougars. Maci Cooper has scored 32 points in the playoff wins against Southern Guilford and Southwestern Randolph.
Charlotte Catholic (22-7) is the N0. 11 seed and tied for first with Cuthbertson in the Southern Carolina Conference with a 12-2 record.
Catholic — also the Cougars — rallied in the fourth quarter to beat South Piedmont Conference regular-season champ Central Cabarrus on Thursday, 44-40.
Dane Bertolina, a junior guard, scored 17 against Central Cabarrus. Senior Clara Flatau scored 15.
North (26-2) takes on the Hayesville Yellow Jackets, who went 11-1 to win the Big Smoky Mountain Conference.
Hayesville is coached by Michael Cottrell, who is part of one of the legendary families in western North Carolina basketball.
Cottrell’s father, Steve, coached Western Carolina University for a decade, and Michael Cottrell scored more than 2,500 points for Cullowhee High before starring at Lenoir-Rhyne in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Michael Cottrell has coached Hayesville (22-5) since 1999 and his team won the 1A state championship in 2004.
Seeded sixth, Hayesville beat Highland Tech and Chatham Charter at home to reach the third round.
Hayesville, in Clay County, is about as rural as it gets. The town’s population is 311. Hayesville plays its home games at high altitude — 1,893 feet above sea level.
North, which has won 19 straight games since losing back-to-back in the Dale’s Sporting Goods Sam Moir Christmas Classic, also plays at high altitude, but that’s with regard to the vertical jumps of Brevin Goodlett, Dayjuwon Cooke and Kendrell Goodes.
Seniors Goodlett and Cooke have been reliable scorers for coach Jason Causby’s Cavaliers, while another senior, Derrick Page, is the floor general.
North is 10-0 on its home floor this season. The Cavaliers have won playoff games against Carolina International School and Union Academy.
North is in the third round for the first time since 2015, when it beat Salisbury, West Davidson and Forest Hills (0n the road) to reach the 2A Western Regional.
A.L. Brown boys
This is the 22nd season for coach Shelwyn Klutz and the first time his program has won two playoff games in the same season.
A.L. Brown’s last visit to the third round of the 3A playoffs was in 2005, earning a first-round bye as the North Piedmont Conference champ, and then winning against Franklin in the second round. The Wonders lost in the third round to Parkwood — in overtime. That team, which had players such as Garrett Sherrill, Ronnie Land and Heath Culbertson, finished 20-7.
Seeded 11th, the current Wonders (21-7) are young. Runner-up to powerhouse Cox Mill in the South Piedmont Conference — the Chargers accounted for three of their seven losses — they’ve pulled out tight playoff victories against A.C. Reynolds and neighbor Northwest Cabarrus. Junior Amari Grier, sophomore Amare Haynie and freshman Kheni Briggs led the scoring for the Wonders on Thursday.
Klutz has never made the trip to Morganton to play Freedom, tonight’s opponent, either as a player (he was a standout on the Wonders’ 1984 state runner-up team) or as a coach.
The gym in Freedom is known as the “TerrorDome.” Playing at home where it is 13-0, third-seeded Freedom has easily dispatched West Henderson and Greensboro’s Ben Smith from the playoffs in the first two rounds.
Freedom (27-2) has an experienced team led by Citadel signee Fletcher Abee, a 6-2 guard who runs the show and makes 3-pointers.
Other standouts are 6-3 senior Jakari Dula and 6-4 senior Michael Logan. Those two combined for 51 points on Thursday.
Freedom plays in a split 3A/4A conference and ran the table with a 14-0 record in league action. That’s a league that included a good Hickory squad.
Freedom coach Casey Rogers is the son of legendary Freedom coach Terry Rogers, who was recently inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame.
Unless Mount Tabor springs an amazing upset, the Freedom-A.L. Brown winner will get No. 2 seed Cox Mill.
Unbeaten Southwest Guilford is still rolling at the top of the 3A West bracket.
Davie (24-2) is experiencing a season of historic proportions.
The War Eagles, with a senior core of Owen McCormack, Michael Walton, Troy Griggs and Jacob Hendrix, are 11-1 at home and will host another tough opponent tonight in No. 12 seed Myers Park, from the south side of Charlotte.
Myers Park won a one-point game at home against Porter Ridge in the first round, then won by double digits on the road at Northwest Guilford in the second round.
The key guy for Myers Park is 6-5 sophomore Drake Maye, a brother of UNC standout Luke Maye. Drake is best known as a major football quarterback prospect (Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan and ACC schools already have offered), but he’s also good at hoops. He averages 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds. The other steady scorer for the Mustangs is 6-2 senior Caleb McReed.
Myers Park (21-8) went 11-3 in the Southwestern Conference and was the third-place team behind Independence and Butler.
Central Piedmont Conference regular-season champ Davie most recently made it this far in 2012. That was a 23-7 season in which Davie charged all the way to the regional final under coach Mike Absher before losing to West Charlotte. That team included players such as Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Nate Jones, Shannon Dillard, Davis Absher and Kenyon Tatum.
Davie beat Myers Park in a first-round playoff game in 2005.
The North Meck-R.J. Reynolds winner will await the survivor. North Meck is the No. 1 seed.
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