GARNER — Garner's boys and Southeast Raleigh's girls opted for the matching set of championships Friday night. Southeast's came just a tad easier than Garner's, however, as both teams packed up their regular-season Greater Neuse River 4A Conference titles with conference tournament crowns.
The Trojans trailed Clayton 60-53 with 5:15 to play, before rallying for a 70-68 victory on Dominique Reed's basket at the buzzer.
The Comets had the ball with things tied at 68 with 16 seconds to play, but Garner's Demarcus Sanford stole the ball. The Trojans tried to score on a break, but the ball went out of bounds under the Trojan basket with 3.6 seconds to play.
That's when Sanford fed senior Larry Richardson in the corner. Richardson drove toward the basket, drawing help from the defense before dishing off to Reed for the banked in game-winner.
"Larry was smart enough to change up the play," Sanford said of the game-winning possession. "He went to the corner, got the ball, then drove to the lane. It helped get Dominique open a bit and then Dominique just put it home to win it."
Reed finished with 20 points to lead Garner (23-2).
Clayton (18-6), which finished second in the regular-season league standings, built its lead behind a barrage of long 3-pointers from Anthony Gaskins and Kyle Bryant. Gaskins had a game-high 25 points and both of Bryant's 3s helped Clayton build that late seven-point lead.
Southeast (21-3) and East Wake (21-5), the league regular-season runner-up, traded the lead seven times in the third quarter of the girls' championship game. Midway of the fourth, however, the Bulldogs' commitment to work the ball to the baseline and inside - drilled home during their halftime chat - started to pay dividends.
Kaleisha Moore's three-point play with 5:01 to play started an 11-0 Bulldogs' run that made the difference. Moore, a junior post player, had seven of those 11 points during the run.