Middle Creek closed out the first half with the hot hand, but it was Northern Durham with the hot touch in the second half that made the difference as the the Knights held off the Mustangs for a 72-62 second-round victory in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.
“We knew coming in that they shot the ball well,” Northern Durham coach Ron Russell said.
Middle Creek had an early 9-8 lead in the opening quarter, then regained it again (26-25) with 2:16 left til the half off a 3-pointer by Jared Collins.
The 18-seed Mustangs (16-10) and 2-seed Knights (25-2) were tied at 30 at the break.
“We had to pick up the intensity, we were not playing with a lot of intensity,” Russell said.
Northern Durham used quick starts in the third (9-3 run) and fourth quarters (8-0 run) to build a double -digit lead over Middle Creek.
Middle Creek scored 30 of their 62 points from 3-point range.
“This group has never played against a team that plays as fast as Northern Durham,” said Middle Creek coach David Kushner. “They made big plays all night, but I thought my guys fought so hard.”
The Knights were lead in scoring by Ricky Council who had 23 points, and Kentrell Barkley with 21 points. The Mustangs were paced by John Perron who had 22 points (six 3-pointers).
Fred Iruafremi added in 12 for Middle Creek.