Last season’s Apex High boys’ basketball playoff run, which culminated in a come-from-behind 62-59 victory over Lake Norman in the 2014 state 4A championship, felt like a movie.
The Cougars trailed at the half in a 64-63 third-round win over Northern Durham, at the half in a 79-75 quarterfinal win over Clayton, and at the half of a semifinal 63-57 win over Millbrook. Apex also trailed at the half of the title game and looked in peril of losing badly.
There were plenty of stars to help the Apex comebacks, including seniors T.J. Evans and T.J. Wells, but in any film about the playoffs the lead role would go to Ian Boyd.
Boyd, now a 6-foot-3 junior, was sensational in the championship game. He scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half, including 10 straight Cougars points to start the third quarter as they erased an eight-point deficit.
He had an assist on the go-ahead basket, blocked a potential game-tying shot with 17 seconds left and made two crucial free throws with 14.8 points.
“He was tremendous,” said Apex coach David Neal. “It was a tremendous year.”
But much of the cast graduated. The Cougars return four players – Jon Jones, John Kitoko, Davis Dupree and Boyd – from the 23-7 club, plus four players called up from the junior varsity for the playoffs.
Neal thinks the club can be competitive and he believes last year’s playoff experiences will be beneficial. But he also is a realist.
“Where we were last year and where we are right now are miles apart,” he said. “Wells and Evans had a lot of experience and the team had an attitude that somebody was going to make a play when we needed it.”
Junior Colin Molden could take up some of the scoring slack and Boyd is expected to step into a leadership role once he joins the team.
Teams to watch