The final unbeaten teams were handed their first losses in the final Southwest Wake Athletic Conference basketball games before the holiday break on Wednesday night.
Green Hope’s girls toppled SWAC-leading Cary 46-38 with a gutsy fourth-quarter effort in the night’s first game, then Cary’s boys edged Green Hope 47-45 in overtime.
That leaves the SWAC race – in both girls’ and boys’ hoops – as wide-open as it’s been in years.
The N&O No. 15 Imps (6-3, 4-1) led going into the fourth quarter but No. 19 Green Hope (9-2, 4-2) put together its best quarter in more than a week. Green Hope was coming off back-to-back losses to Apex and Panther Creek to tumble behind Cary in the SWAC standings.
Rachel Argabright (13 points) and Maylia Sparrow (12) helped spark the comeback effort.
“They played hard, and that’s what we’ve been trying to get (through) to them ... because it was a long week last week,” Green Hope coach Mike Robinson said.
Cary has one of the tallest teams in the Triangle. Six-foot-two power forward Adrienne Moore is overshadowed by 6-5 sophomore Tamari Key, who had a game-high 14 points and 13 rebounds and is averaging almost four blocks per game.
Key sat out last year, recovering from an ACL tear from her eighth grade year.
“She obviously is a post presence on both ends of the floor,” Cary coach Pat Daly said. “Defensively, she helps us out a lot especially if we get beat on the perimeter.”
The N&O No. 16 Imps (6-3, 4-1) and No. 9 Green Hope (8-2, 5-1) went into overtime tied at 39-all. The lead was never more than six points either way.
Cary and Falcons traded three baskets each in overtime, but the Falcons had the ball as time was running out. A drive to the hoop was blocked by Cary’s Philip Blackley, and the rebound fell to Dwain Perry-Baker, who flew down the sideline and passed to Donte Tatum.
Green Hope was whistled for the foul on Tatum with 0.5 seconds left. He sank both, and Green Hope’s tying effort rimmed off.
It was the second Falcons’ attempt with less than a second left that almost went in. With 0.6 left in regulation, Green Hope also got a shot off in time that missed by a few inches.
“Any given night we’ve got any number of guys who can come out and be the man for us, so we can be unselfish and spread the ball around,” Green Hope coach John Green said.
Cary, the reigning 4A East champ, is still trying to get its players to settle into new roles. The Imps are guard-heavy with returning starters Tatum and Kyle Gensler and Jeff Fortuny and Elijah Idlett joining the starting lineup.
Tatum played in the post most of night, but has also handled the ball as the team’s point guard this year.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Cary coach Allan Gustafson Jr. said. “But the kids are great. They work hard every day, they listen. It’s a great team to coach.”