FAYETTEVILLE — With their season six minutes away from ending, Oxford Webb went to its ace. And North Carolina recruit Isaiah Hicks didn’t disappoint.
Hicks scored eight of the Warriors final 14 points in a come-from-behind 68-64 victory over defending state champion Rocky Mount in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A regional final Saturday at Crown Coliseum. The win sends Webb to its first state championship game next Saturday at N.C. State.
“I am proud of our young men,” Warriors coach Leo Brunelli said. “I’m proud of how hard they fought. I’m proud of how they never looked at the scoreboard.”
With the score tied at 56-all with 6 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game, Mitron Terry and Devonte Williams hit back-to-back baskets to put the Warriors ahead by four – their biggest lead of the game.
Gryphons forward Michael Gainey Jr. cut it to two before Hicks’ turnaround jumper pushed the lead back to four at the 4-minute mark. After Rocky Mount star forward Dante Battle, who finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, hit a layup to make it 62-60, Hicks scored four straight points – the second basket a thunderous dunk – to put Webb ahead 66-60 with 1:55 left.
Battle countered with back-to-back field goals to pull the Gryphons back to within two with 1:03 left. Then came the play of the game.
With 31.4 seconds remaining, Hicks recorded his fifth block of the game on Battle under the basket. As the ball was going out of bounds, Webb’s Stefan Cates knocked the ball off a Rocky Mount player. Cates was then fouled and hit two free throws with 10.4 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
“We worked all season for this,” said Hicks, the tournament MVP who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. “We are a family, like brothers. This makes it extra special with your brothers.”