Carrboro’s basketball teams played well enough last week – most of the time – to win their semifinal games in the Mid-State 2A Conference tournament.
The problem for both the girls’ and boys’ teams was a singular stretch of bad play that cost them the lead and then the game.
Playing in Thursday’s first semifinal at Burlington Cummings, the Jaguar girls saw the Lady Cavaliers use a 21-0 run in the second quarter to convert a see-saw game into a 70-50 decision.
Following their female schoolmates on the same court, the Carrboro boys’ team grabbed an early 10-3 lead and was still up 31-26 before a disastrous third quarter. The Red Devils out-scored Carrboro 23-4 over the first 11 minutes of the second half and then held on for a 63-46 win.
Both of Carrboro’s teams, each of which finished third in the Mid-State standings, had to wait until Saturday afternoon to learn if they would get an at-large berth in the N.C. High School Athletics Association state playoffs.
“We’ll just have to hope,” Carrboro boys coach John Alcox said Thursday. “There are not many of those at-large berths.”
Carrboro’s boys had lost both of their regular-season meetings with Graham by 10 or less points, and it appeared early on Thursday that they had learned from previous mistakes. The Jaguars shot better (45 percent to 29 percent) and rebounded better (18-15) than Graham in the first half.
Carrboro’s 6-7 James Scott scored 11 of the Jaguars’ first 13 points and had 16 points and 6 rebounds by halftime.
One of Graham head coach Mike Williams’ assistants then suggested that the Red Devils switch to a contain defense.
“We backed off them and tried to keep them from penetrating,” Williams said. “That was the difference.”
Carrboro missed 14 of its first 16 shots of the second half and turned over seven other possessions in the third quarter.
“I thought we played well enough for the first half,” Alcox said. “Then we got into some foul trouble, and that derailed us some, and they started to hit shots and capitalized on our mistakes.”
Scott got inside successfully just once more, and he ended up with a team-high 18 points for Carrboro (15-9), while fellow senior Matt MacKinnon added 13 points.
That wasn’t nearly enough, as Trent Torain scored a game-high 27 points and Tyrick Gattis had 13 to help the second-seeded Red Devils (15-7) win for the eighth time in nine games.
Good second half
The Carrboro girls finished their season better than they started. Plagued by injuries until the last half of the Mid-State Conference schedule, coach Sheremy Dillard-Clanton’s Jaguars beat every opponent except undefeated Reidsville (20-0) in the second leg of the league slate.
“It was looking shaky there,” said Dillard-Clanton. “But we got third place. I’m very pleased with that. A lot of people were counting us out.”
Dillard-Clanton also was pleased with the way her team played for most of Thursday night.
Carrboro (7-17) stayed close with Cummings (12-9) on its home court throughout the first period.
The Jaguars went up 17-15 as point guard Haley Davis flipped a loose ball from midcourt up to Grace Nanney, who laid it in with 1:10 left in the first quarter.
Cummings then reeled off a 25-3 run and led 42-23 by halftime. Carrboro matched the Cavs almost basket for basket after that but never got closer than 58-43 late.
“We did well most of the game, but the shots just weren’t falling,” Dillard-Clanton said.
Camille Gallagher led Carrboro with 24 points, while Cummings’ Andrea Walker finished with 32 points, including 10 in the third quarter.
“She scored a lot of points,” Cummings coach Eddie Foust said. “But we needed every one of them.”