CARY — The Green Hope-Cary basketball double-header Friday at Cary High’s Charles H. Adams Gymnasium began with a ceremony to present a McDonald’s All-American plaque to the Imps’ Azura Stevens as one of hundreds of girls nominees.
The Duke-bound Stevens subsequently turned in her usual dominant performance in a 59-45 win over Green Hope. She finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots (one should have been classified as swatted). But the 6-foot-5 Stevens’ All-American plaque also may have rubbed off on her teammates as well the Cary boys in the nightcap.
The Cary Crazies turned out in full force for both games in the Imps’ sweep as the boys rallied from a 30-24 halftime deficit for a 69-64 victory in overtime against Green Hope.
In the opener, Cary coach Pat Daly said his girls recorded their best all-around performance in some time. The Imps remained tied first place in a tight Southwest Wake Athletic Conference race with a 6-2 league record to go with a 14-3 overall mark. Green Hope (8-9, 5-3) dropped one game back. The night began with four girls teams tied for first with two losses.
“I feel every game we try our best to be more than a one-person team,” said Cary senior guard Mallory Curtis. “Azura can get her points easier than any of us when we get the ball into her, but tonight we also knocked down our shots. We just have to keep making our shots.”
Curtis only scored 2 points, but she played a strong floor game on a night the Imps showed improved ball movement. Joining Stevens in double figures was senior Marjan Hamad, a senior guard who came off came off the bench to score 13 points. She hit three 3-point field goals.
“Coach told us, ‘Don’t be afraid to shoot,’ ” Hamad said. “He told us to move the ball, play with confidence and come out with energy.”
Brooke Anthony-Robinson, the Imps’ other big girl at “only” 6 feet, 2 inches who is in only her third year of playing basketball, was more aggressive as she finished with six points. With Anthony-Robinson’s play, Daly was able to rest Stevens for the final four minutes. He also emptied his bench for the final three minutes. Stevens had played every second of Wednesday’s grinder, a 54-53 win over Athens Drive when she scored 37 points with 22 rebounds.
Allie Winiecki led Green Hope with 14 points and Jaria Martin added 10.
In the boys game, Dante Tatum scored 29 points as the Imps evened their SWAC mark at 4-4 and improved to 10-7 overall. C.J. Lyon added 15 points, with five of Cary’s 11 points in the overtime session.
Akeem Tate scored 23 points for Green Hope (4-4 SWAC, 7-11 overall) and Johnathan Clark 17.
Green Hope missed two shots in the final 17 seconds of regulation that sent the game into overtime tied at 58-58.
Cary outscored Green Hope in OT 11-6 despite hitting only 5 of 13 free throws in the extra session.