High schools

Stevens: Readers agree Isaiah Hicks’ performance ranks among the best of all time

tstevens@newsobserver.comMarch 23, 2013 

J.F. Webb's Isaiah Hicks (4) shoots over the top of Statesville's Justin Daniels (5). Photojournalist Johnny Johnson's singles from the NC High School 3A Boys Basketball State Championship game between J.F. Webb High School and Statesville High School held at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, NC, on March 16, 2013. J.F. Webb leads at halftime, 29-20.

JOHNNY JOHNSON — newsobserver.com Buy Photo

  • Outstanding basketball championship game performances Boys

    Isaiah Hicks, Oxford Webb: 30 points, 34 rebounds, 7 blocks in a 73-70 overtime 3A victory over Statesville, 2013.

    Jason Parker, West Charlotte: 38 points, 12 rebounds. four blocks in an 84-67 win over Wilmington Laney, 1999.

    John Bullock, Durham Hillside: 42 points in a 96-66 loss to West Charlotte, 1966.

    Henrik Rodl, Chapel Hill: 34 points in a victory over North Mecklenburg. Rodl had 23 points in the second half, 1987.

    Brandon Setzer, Thomasville: 28 points, 21 rebounds in a 75-62 win over 1A Perquimans, 2003.

    Girls

    April Cromartie, Clinton Union: 48 points (21 of 28 from the floor), 18 rebounds in an 85-70 girls 1A victory over Cherokee, 1998.

    Chasity Melvin, Roseboro Lakewood: 37 points (15 of 20 from the floor), 21 rebounds in an 80-60 win over Murphy, 1984.

    Cetera DeGraffenreid, Smoky Mountain: 42 points (16 of 19 free throws and 36 points in the second half), seven assists in an 85-62 girls 2A win over Graham, 2007.

    Tonya Sampson, Clinton: 25 points, 20 rebounds in a 72-63 girls 2A win over Bunker Hill, 1989; and 33 points, 16 rebounds, five assists in a 58-52 win over Newton-Conover, 1990.

    Shea Ralph, Fayetteville Sanford: 40 points (including all of the Bulldogs’ points in the second half) in a 73-51 loss to Durham Hillside.

Jason Parker. Jason Parker. Jason Parker.

Alex Bass of Raleigh, who has studied high school athletics in North Carolina like few others, believes West Charlotte High’s Parker had the most dominating performance in an N.C. High School Athletic Association state championship.

I wrote that Isaiah Hicks’ 34 points, 30 rebounds and seven blocks in Oxford Webb’s 73-70 boys 3A basketball title game was the most dominating ever and invited opinions.

“Hicks was great, but he didn’t dominate like Parker did,” Bass said.

Bass supported Parker’s 38-point (17 of 22 shots), 12-rebound. four-block performance in an 84-67 win over Wilmington Laney by noting that Parker came out of the 1999 4A championship game early after the victory was assured and Hicks played 33 minutes. Parker also played against taller opponents.

“Jason Parker’s performance was the most dominating I have ever seen in a championship,” Bass said. “I’ve never seen a player completely dominate a title game any more.”

But most of the people I heard from supported Hicks’ performance.

The 6-foot-9 North Carolina recruit’s 30 rebounds is a state championship game record. The NCHSAA basketball tournament records are complete since 1986 and some go back to 1946.

Elliott Warnock, the Chapel Hill News sports editor, recalled other great games but said he had never seen a more dominating performance.

“It was like watching a teacher on the playground with school children,” he said. “Hicks was totally dominating. It literally looked like a man among boys.”

The closest performance to Hicks’ game, Warnock said, was Dominique Wilkins in Washington’s 82-67 3A title game victory over Rockingham in 1979. The interest in that game was so high that it was moved from Durham High to UNC’s Carmichael Auditorium.

Warnock has Henrik Rodl of Chapel Hill (34 points against North Mecklenburg in 1987), Reyshawn Terry of Winston-Salem Reynolds (21 points against Fayetteville Seventy-First in 2002), Parker and Hicks on his most dominating list.

“But none was quite the monster in the paint that Hicks was against Statesville,” Warnock said. “Hicks was literally head-and-shoulders above everyone else on the court.”

Kenneth Elliott of Four Oaks was impressed with Hicks making four critical free throws late in the game.

“His free throws at the end of regulation proved a lot,” Elliot wrote. “I have been to a lot of state championship games in football and basketball and I think this was the best.”

Max Harris of Raleigh said Hicks’ hustle and free throws won him over.

“Hick’s stats were fantastic, but more impressive to me was him knocking down the four free throws late and nothing but net on all four,” Lennox said. “Miss just one and game was over.”

David Justice, who has covered high school basketball in the area for 40 years, said he knew Hicks was having a great game but was surprised at the totals.

“Hicks did some amazing things,” Justice recalled, noting once when Hicks sprinted from inside the foul line to block a fast break layup at the other end. “There (were) times when you just shook your head.”

There was a lot of head-shaking, too, when John “Goat” Bullock scored 42 points in Durham Hillside’s 80-78 overtime victory over West Charlotte in the 1966 championship game of the High School Athletic Conference, which was the association for African-American schools at the time. Hillside trailed by 30 at the half.

Dave Telep, the ESPN national basketball recruiting analyst, said there may be other great games in Hicks’ future. He said Hicks has a higher ceiling than any of the top-ranked players in the Class of 2013.

“This is a crucial summer for Isaiah,” Telep said. “No one in the class has his skill set, but he needs to get stronger. If he improves his strength, there is no other player in the class who has as much potential.”

Stevens: 919-812-5711

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