When it comes to credit for the East All-Stars’ win in the 41st annual N.C. Coaches East-West girls basketball game, there’s no wondering what region of the state provided the winning ingredients.
The team featured eight Triangle-area players and two coaches – Durham Hillside’s Ovester Grays and Clayton’s Marlon Lee – in an 84-72 victory Monday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
In the boys’ contest, four Triangle area stars helped the East to a 122-115 victory.
Similar looks: The Triangle eight who took the court in the girls game – Raziyah Farrington of Chapel Hill (Western Carolina University), Durham Jordan’s Salita Greene (University of Richmond), Grace Hunter of Athens Drive (UNC Charlotte), Kianna Wynn of East Wake (Barton), Kaila Ealey of Broughton (N.C. State), Tainasha Vines of Bunn (North Carolina / track & field), Justin Lyon of Hillside (Davidson), and Amber Richardson of Southeast Raleigh (N.C. State) – all played similar games.
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Their roles were of 5-foot-8 to 6-foot-2 standouts who can score and pass on offense, rebound and get into passing lanes on the other end.
It was a little bit of an adjustment.
“The best 10 players aren’t always going to play different positions,” Farrington said. “We knew we’d have to adjust to playing roles we haven’t always played on this team.”
Greene led the East with 13 rebounds.
Future N.C. State players Ealey and Richardson helped carry a lot of their team’s scoring. Ealey had a team-high 18 points, while Richardson chipped in 11, same as Wynn. Lyon and Farrington had eight each, while Vines added six rebounds.
Farrington also made four assists without a turnover and grabbed three rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
Hunter said their defensive mindset was the key to the team’s win: “I like that everybody on our team played fast-paced and knew how important it was for us to play well defensively.”
Defense? Defense, anyone? All four Triangle area boys players credited their team defense for the victory, even though they gave up 115 points.
“Nobody ever plays much defense in an all-star game,” Brown said. “We told ourselves we were going to be that all-star team who plays defense. We talked about it all weekend: defense, defense, defense.”
Regardless, the East and West teams set a record for most points combined (237) in the annual NCCA game.
Hornets style prevails: Grays’ highly successful girls teams of recent years have thrived on stellar defense, run-outs after steals and unselfishness. The East girls squad, unlike the boys, used those same approaches in Monday night’s win.
The East totaled 16 steals and 67 rebounds, while holding the West to a 31-percent night shooting from the field.
“All week the girls just bought into the whole approach as a team,” Grays said. “They were unselfish; they wanted to win above all else. Their defense and rebounding showed it.”
Big scoring performances: The 2015 edition of the East boys squad scored the most points the eastern half of the state ever has on Monday night. The 122 points were four better than the 1992 East squad’s output and just two short of the 67-year mark set by the West in 2009.
Northern Durham grad Kentrell Barkley (East Carolina) led all East boys scorers with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Barkley, a two-time PAC-6 MVP and an AP all-state performer last season — wowed the crowd when he scored on a long breakout pass from N.C. State recruit Shaun Kirk to salt away the victory with 6.7 seconds left to play.
The Millbrook duo of Chris Clemons (12 points) and Rob Brown (8) contributed 20 points, while Garner point guard Julius Barnes – the 4A boys state championship game MVP – finished with five points, five rebounds and three assists. Clemmons is headed to Campbell, while Brown will play at Winston-Salem State. Barnes will spend the next year at Moravian Prep in Hickory.
Earlier in the night, the defense that powered the East girls’ multiple chances at easy transition buckets helped on offense as well. The 84 points in Monday night’s game are the most scored by an East girls squad since 2004 (85) and the fifth-highest scoring total for the East in the 41-year history of the game.
Going home with a ball: The MVPs of the East-West basketball games go home with a game ball.
Hope Mills South View grad Chinyere Bell (George Mason) was the girls’ MVP with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Jacque Brown of 1A state champion East Carteret was the boys’ MVP with 25 points.
Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest