FAYETTEVILLE — Broughton, led by its seniors, held off Hillside on Tuesday to return to the N.C. 4A East finals for the first time since 2001.
The Caps topped Hillside 65-49 in the regional semifinals at Crown Coliseum.
Broughton will face Fayetteville Seventy-First at noon Saturday in the regional final.
“This team, they’ve been together for four years most of them, and they came up and have really developed nicely as a group,” Broughton coach Jeff Ferrell said.
Seniors Devonte’ Graham, James Hemphill and Chris Brickhouse combined for 51 points for the Caps.
Hemphill lead all scorers with 22 points, and Hillside senior DeShon Self led the Hornets with 18 points. No other player reached double-digits for Hillside.
Ferrell said he knew his team would face Hillside’s pesky pressure defense, and though the Caps jumped out to a 9-2 lead early, Hillside quickly closed the gap.
The Hornets forced four Broughton turnovers in the last four minutes of the first quarter, allowing Hillside to pull within one point.
“We knew they were going to press us and there was going to be some pressure,” Ferrell said. “Then they started pressing us and we started to throw it all over the place.”
Broughton (24-5) settled down in the second quarter, and the Hillside press that gave the Caps trouble in the first half, was consistently broken as the game continued.
Hillside took a brief lead in the second quarter, but Broughton went back inside to Hemphill and Brickhouse to pull back ahead.
“I think the second quarter turned the tide their way. … We never could get over the hump,” Hillside coach Crasten Davis said.
Broughton turned a 33-25 halftime edge into a 44-29 lead with two minutes to go in the third quarter.
Hillside used its press to make a small run again, pulling within eight points midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t close the gap.
“I think our pressure was effective,” Davis said. “Just when we got the ball, they were good at getting back in transition and not allowing us layups.”
Hillside shot less than 33 percent from the field, often settling for long-range shots, which allowed for long Broughton rebounds and points in transition on the other end.
Broughton also struggled to put shots in at times, but often got more than one opportunity, ending the game with 14-2 advantage on second-chance shots and outrebounding Hillside 43-24.
The Caps scored 42 of their 65 points in the paint.
Despite the loss, Davis said the future looks bright. Hillside’s bench contributed 22 point Tuesday and the Hornets will return several key pieces, including leading scorers Robert Robinson Jr. and Malik Evans, and assist leader D’ontray Johnson.