DURHAM — Voyager Academy, in only its third season, is the Carolina 12 1A boys basketball champion.
The Vikings rallied from a five-point, fourth-quarter deficit to defeat River Mill Academy 55-54 Friday night in the conference championship game.
“This means everything,” Voyager coach Patrick Walton said. “Last year we didn’t qualify for anything. This year we started from the bottom and worked our way up.”
Trailing 38-37 entering the fourth quarter, River Mill seemingly took control behind a barrage of 3-pointers. But Voyager forward Coltyn Faucette was a beast on the boards as he grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and scored 14 points to keep Voyager in the game.
The teams were tied three times in the final period before the Vikings took the lead for good on a free throw by Gary Ford with 23 seconds left.
A River Mill turnover gave the ball back to Voyager, and Diante Parker sealed the deal with two more free throws. The Jaguars’ Cody Moore scored with 1.5 seconds left, but Voyager got the ball inbounds and held on for the win.
Voyager advanced to next week’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A state playoffs.
“We never doubted what we could do,” said Walton, who began the program. “The guys know their roles and they played them well tonight.”
Voyager jumped on the Jaguars early 12-1. But River Mill, the regular-season champion, closed within two entering the second period.
Both teams were hot in the second period and dueled to a 26-all tie at the half.
In the girls’ final, River Mill defeated Franklin Academy 58-30.