RALEIGH — For the third year in a row, Chapel Hill will finish at least tied for the regular season championship in the Carolina 3A Conference after the Tigers closed out the schedule with a 55-44 win at Cardinal Gibbons.
Coach Tod Morgan’s squad is 20-4 overall and 9-1 in the league to tie Oxford Webb. Gibbons took third place at 14-10 and 6-4.
The Crusaders lost both games to both Webb and Chapel Hill.
“Another great year,” Morgan said. “Three straight 20-win seasons, three straight conference champs, I’m really proud of these kids.”
The tournament starts Monday. Gibbons will host a first round game and then could play either Webb or Chapel Hill Wednesday with a win.
Crusaders coach Marque Carrington thinks his team could make some noise in the post-season.
“This is not a typical Cardinal Gibbons team,” Carrington said. “This team is not willing to do the dirty work on defense and is not tough enough and it showed tonight. But the talent is there and we’re going to work on getting tougher (Saturday) morning.”
Chapel Hill led most of the way, but Gibbons battled its way to a 25-24 lead early in the second half after a tap-in by Trevor Zaruba. But then the Tigers, led by senior Anthony Vanhook, scored the next eight points and led the rest of the way.
“That was absolutely disgusting,” Carrington said. “We took the lead, Vanhook made a great shot and they’re off to the races. To beat Chapel Hill you’ve got to contain Vanhook and keep those guys off the boards. They didn’t shoot particularly well, but scored on second and third shots.”
Vanhook, a versatile player for the Tigers, ended the game with 18 points. Stephen Himmelberg added 10 for the Tigers.
“Vanhook does everything and somebody’s going to get steal with him on the college level because he’s been kind of under the radar,” Morgan said. “He’s starting to get some interest and he’s going to be a nice player for somebody.”
Gibbons had a balanced attack, led by Patrick Domville with 10 points, followed by Moses Morockie and Austin Burnette with nine each.