APEX — A stingy defense and a stomach virus weren't enough to keep Apex's T.J. Evans down.
The sophomore finished with 27 points - including 19 in the second half - to lead the Cougars over Durham Hillside 69-62 in the second round of N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A basketball playoffs Wednesday night.
"He had a stomach bug. He was sick all day," Apex coach David Neal said of Evans.
Evans didn't show any signs of sickness as he knifed through defenders for a score or spotted up from beyond the arc to drain 3-pointers throughout an impressive second half.
"T.J. took the game over," Neal said.
"My teammates gave me the opportunities," Evans said. "I was able to get it going and keep it going."
Dyron Jones almost matched Evans shot for shot, keeping the Hornets in a tightly contested game. He finished with 22 points, 14 coming in the second half. Jones' shooting and Hillside's defense kept Apex from breaking away.
"He was tough," Neal said of Jones.
Both teams were tough at the start, setting a rapid pace. Apex led 17-14 after the first quarter and the lead seesawed with Apex eventually up 33-30 at intermission.
Hillside (18-7) was able to jump ahead early in the third with a 36-34 lead. But Apex (25-3) went on a 7-0 run to give the Cougars some breathing room, built a 48-40 late in the period.
The Hornets closed the gap to 52-50 on a Jones jumper with 5:33 left in the game. But Evans answered with a 3-pointer for a 55-50 lead.
With 2:40 left Evans hit another 3-pointer, but Jones answered with a layup to close it to 62-57.
Apex slowed the offense, going into a stall, and forced Hillside to foul. Apex hit all four of its foul shots in the fourth quarter.