FAYETTEVILLE — Oxford Webb moved one step closer to getting the state championship that star player Isaiah Hicks and his Warriors teammates are hunting.
Webb reached the East Regional championship game with a 65-56 win over a tough Eastern Alamance squad here Friday night. They will face Rocky Mount Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Crown Coliseum for the right to play in the state championship game next week in Raleigh.
Rocky Mount advanced to the regional final with a 62-50 win over West Craven.
Things did not start well for Webb (22-5), as Eastern ran its way to a big lead and took a 25-14 lead early in the second quarter on a pair of free throws by junior guard Lamont Robinson. But the Warriors were prepared for the situation.
“That’s why we played the schedule we did. We weathered other storms,” Webb coach Leo Brunelli said. “Our conference schedule prepared us for this and our showcase nonconference schedule prepared us. We’ve had games where teams have come out and punched is in the nose. We were ready.”
Hicks, the 6-9 all-American player headed to North Carolina, played a key role in getting the Warriors back in the game. He blocked one shot that started a fastbreak basket that began a 9-0 run and also had a two-handed block on an Eagles fastbreak that even stunned the large Oxford crowd and his coach.
“Every time I think the young man (Hicks) has shown me everything, he goes up there, pins one like that,” Brunelli laughed. “I haven’t seen one like that yet, maybe not that high.”
With junior guard Mitron Terry driving to the basket for points and Stefan Cates shooting his way to 23, Webb trailed by just 34-33 at halftime. The Warriors then outscored the Eagles 15-6 in the third period. Cates, a 6-1 junior, got the first basket of the second half to put his team up 35-34 and Webb led the rest of the way.
“In the third quarter we held them to six points and that’s a great team, To hold them like that we had to guard some people tonight,” Brunelli said.
Cates also had 13 rebounds to go with his points. Hicks scored 13, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked eight shots, including four in the third quarter. Terry scored 15 points and pulled down 10 boards.
For Eastern (23-6), Robinson scored 28 points but had to work for them against the Warriors defense, as he took 33 shots. Malcolm Summers added 13 points.
In the earlier game, the Gryphons (25-2) trailed 39-37 late in the third quarter but went on an 8-0 run and led the rest of the game. West Craven (25-5) had the ball and was behind 55-50 with over a minute to play, but failed to score again.
Broderick Caudle led a balanced Rocky Mount attack with 15, followed by Mason Hines with 12 and Michael Hines with 11. Mason Hines also had six assists and seven steals.
Josh Cuthbertson, a 6-5 senior, racked up 18 points and 19 rebounds for the Eagles. Demetres Abrams added 16 points.