Apex boys, Green Hope girls win

mblake@newsobserver.comFebruary 18, 2012 

— The home-court advantage that came with hosting this year's Tri-Nine 4A championship games nearly led to a sweep of the conference tournaments on Friday night.

But while Green Hope's girls captured their third straight tournament championship with a 68-47 rout of underdog Middle Creek, the boys fell short in a thrilling nightcap.

Apex, also the regular-season champ, defeated the host Falcons boys 68-60 in overtime.

Girls: The Tri-Nine had some intrigue surrounding its girls' championship game, as Green Hope faced off against a red-hot Middle Creek team that had upset the second and third seeds in its conference tournament run.

Despite those upsets, Middle Creek was in need of winning the conference tournament to advance further in the postseason.

But the Falcons of Green Hope dashed those hopes by halftime as they jumped to a 42-18 lead.

Green Hope junior Ashley Williams filled the stat sheet with 11 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and seven steals, and Vanderbilt recruit Kristen Gaffney scored 33 points in the Falcons' 57th straight Tri-Nine 4A win.

"This is icing on the cake," said Gaffney, a senior. "And it's always exciting when you get to do that in front of your home crowd, so this one is a little more special."

Boys: Whether it was overtime or at the end of regulation, Apex sophomore T.J. Evans proved he has the poise of someone much older.

After Ches Edwards hit a 3-pointer with 42 seconds to go put Green Hope's boys ahead 55-52, Evans answered almost immediately with a 22-footer.

"It was just as clutch as anything could be for a conference tournament game," said Apex coach David Neal.

In the overtime period, Evans, who had 22 points, weaved his way into the lane and tossed in a smooth 12-foot jumper with 1 minute, 47 seconds to go, giving the Cougars a four-point lead. It never got any closer, as the Falcons (22-5) went cold for the first time all game and Apex (23-3) connected on most of its free throws, including two more from Evans.

Blake: 919-460-2606

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