Green Hope beat Cardinal Gibbons 6-3 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A East final Wednesday night on the Crusaders’ courts. The Falcons will play for their first state championship Saturday in Burlington.
Sophia Gray’s 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win at No. 5 singles tipped the outcome heavily in the Falcons’ favor entering doubles.
“The wind in the first set was crazy and made it impossible to hit anything,” Gray said. “But the second set I was able to turn things around. I was confident I was going to win.”
Green Hope jumped out to a 3-1 lead behind a trio of freshmen: No 3 Katie Andreini, 6-2, 6-0; No. 4 Anna Rico, 6-3, 6-1; and No. 6, Reilly Major, 6-2, 6-0. Gibbons’ junior Jenna Knors scored the Crusaders’ first team point at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-3.
Never miss a local story.
Gibbons No. 1 singles Lizzie Galush forced doubles. She beat UNC-Ashville-bound Ana Horvat 7-6 (9-7), 6-1 in 2 hours and six minutes.
After a 25-minute break, Andreini and Rico won their doubles match 10-2 to clinch the team score at 5-2.
Green Hope has been stopped in the East final for the last three years, finishing runner-up to eventual champ and top rival Panther Creek. Gibbons was hoping to play for its first 4A crown.
“We had a great year with a great group of seniors,” Gibbons coach Andrew Tuttle said. “It’s sad to see them go; they’ve given so much to our team over the years. We came up a little short against a very good team, but they gave it their all. That’s all I can ask for.”
3A tennis: In a rematch of last year, Union Pines will get another shot at Marvin Ridge. Union Pines lost a coin flip for the 1-seed from the Cape Fear Valley Conference and is a 5-seed. The Vikings split the season series with Fayetteville Terry Sanford before beating the Bulldogs on the road in the 3A East final.
2A tennis: There isn’t an East champion yet in 2A tennis. N.C. School of Science and Math will resume its match with Bartlett Yancey in Burlington, and the winner will play Lake Norman Charter thereafter. NCSSM, up 4-1, needs just one more match to advance. Siler City’s Jordan-Matthews fell 6-0 to Lake Norman Charter in the West final.
1A tennis: Raleigh Charter swept Whiteville in the 1A East final and will play Mount Airy. Mount Airy denied Chatham Charter’s bid to make its first state title appearance in any sport, winning 6-3. Chatham Charter, like Jordan-Matthews, is in Siler City.
4A: Millbrook and Green Hope played as evenly as you would expect two top Triangle teams, but Green Hope scored three times in overtime to win 3-0. The Falcons will host New Hanover, a 1-0 winner over Cary, in Saturday’s fourth round.
It will be the fourth game in eight days for all fourth-round teams (the playoffs were shortened by a week and the regular season extended because of Hurricane Matthew).
“Our motto is basically ‘We are 11 but we play as one,’ I think that speaks well about our teamwork,” said Anthony Boswell, who had two goals. “We all play together, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we just come together and beat other teams.”
East Chapel Hill downed D.H. Conley 3-0 on the road and will travel to Wilmington to face Ashley. The Screaming Eagles downed East Wake on PKs 2-1 (4-3).
“I told the boys they took me on a great journey with the conference championship and three rounds into the playoffs until that late penalty kick,” East Wake coach Jonathan Hasbrouck said. “I’m very proud of them and how they handled themselves.”
3A: Southern Lee continued its Cinderella run as an 8-seed, toppling 4-seed North Forsyth 1-0. The Cavaliers will visit Chapel Hill, a 4-1 winner over Jacksonville in the fourth round.
Lee County was defeated 3-1 by Swansboro in overtime.
2A: Jordan-Matthews needed PKs to get by Clinton 3-2 (5-4) and the Jets are rewarded with a trip to the Outer Banks to face First Flight on Saturday.
Bunn’s historic season ended with a 1-0 loss to Washington, who will play Carrboro next.
1A: There are no N&O-area 1A teams left after North Moore fell in the West bracket and Franklin Academy (2-1 to James Kenan) and Spring Creek (5-0 to Wallace-Rose Hill) both lost in the East.
Sportsmanship: After the Green Hope-Millbrook match, both coaches were very complimentary of the other’s program. Green Hope coach David Corsbie was struck by a moment that doesn’t happen often: When Falcons player Derek Walker went down with a cramp, Millbrook defender Jose Garcia helped him stretch out.
“You don’t see that. That’s a classy move and that starts at the top and trickles down,” Corsbie said.
Millbrook coach Matt Edwards was proud of his senior.
“That’s who he is, he’s a class guy. He’s a guy who will always understand the spirit of the game. It won’t be about that moment or the heat of the moment,” Edwards said. “His heart and his love for people will always kind of keep him in a position where he can serve and be helpful and focused on the right things, and that’s what he’s done for us.”
Southern Vance and East Wake are looking for new head coaches.
Lewis Young resigned this week after Southern Vance’s 0-11 year. Young’s first two teams made the playoffs, including a playoff win in 2013, but his last three teams went 1-10, 2-9 and 0-11. His five-year record was 14-43.
At East Wake, John Poulnott is stepping down after a 2-9 season. He was 31-49 in seven seasons, with a two-year run of 17-8 in 2014-15.
Green Hope, after winning the 4A volleyball title, ended the season ranked No. 93 in the country by PrepVolleyball.com, one of just three schools from North Carolina to make the list. Concord’s Cox Mill, the 3A champ, was No. 25 and West Henderson, the 3A West runner-up, was No. 99.