Heritage and Garner boys’ basketball histories couldn’t be more different. Garner is a Greater Neuse River Conference powerhouse that’s two years removed from a N.C. High School Athletic Association championship. Not long ago, Heritage was 0-22 and sitting in the Cap-8 conference cellar.
Now, the two squads meet in the John Wall Holiday Invitational David West bracket championship game on Friday at 6:50 p.m.
In the David West semifinals, the Huskies blew out Millbrook, the longtime owner of the Cap-8 throne, 67-43 in the semifinals.
Undefeated Heritage is led by 6-foot-7 forward Jayden Gardner, who’s averaging a double-double in the tournament, and Jarren McAllister, a 6-foot-4 wing who can get to the rim at will.
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Garner can score in a variety of ways and has no problem adjusting to the opposition. The Trojans beat Cox Mill, 77-58, shutting down Wendell Moore, a UNC target who coach Roy Williams had gone to the tournament to see.
Through the tournament’s first 16 games, Garner had both of the two highest scoring games.
The Huskies will have their hands full against the Trojans. Garner tore apart Cox Mill’s organized full-court press that suffocated Broughton in the first round, routinely making its way down the court and getting open layups without the ball ever touching the ground.
Garner coach Eddie Gray isn’t concerned about Heritage’s personnel, but noted the opposition’s height advantage.
“I know I watched (Heritage) walk out and they looked really big. We’re going to try and do what got us here. I don’t keep up with who does what or names,” Gray said. “We’re going to focus on doing what’s gotten us here.”
BROUGHTON 54, SOUTHERN DURHAM 51: After being outscored by Southern Durham 23-5 in the third quarter despite being tied at halftime, Broughton coach Jeff Farrell was blunt with his squad during the break.
“I said, ‘You can pack it up and go home or try and play one play at a time,’” Farrell said. “’You may not even win even if you play your butts off, but you might,’ and look what happened.”
The Capitals ended up winning the fourth quarter 24-3, tying the game off a Jessup Lowe shot with 1:15 to go and taking the lead as Carson McCorkle, one of the top-ranked 2020 guards in the country, iced the game with three free throws in the game’s waning seconds.
“To get this win in the second half of the season is a big deal, it’s a big confidence boost,” McCorkle said.
McCorkle finished with 20 points and point guard Jalen Finch scored 13 and had four assists.
Southern’s Jomaru Brown and Antonio Daye Jr. combined for 37 points.
LEESVILLE ROAD 58, RAVENSCROFT 45: Leesville dominated the game with Alex Hunter (11 points), D.J. Horne (19) and Jon Mebane (16) – shooting at least 50 percent from the field. Hunter, a Furman recruit, said the Pride’s variety of scoring options is what sets everyone up to take smart looks.
“You can’t key in on one guy … I really think it makes it easier on each of us as individuals to score and shoot at a higher percentage,” Hunter said.
The teams combined to turn over the ball 25 times, but Leesville coach Russ Frazier said it showed his team can grind its way to a win.
“I learned today we can ugly it up and defend, which we haven’t done before,” he said. “That’s what we had to do to win today.”
Ian Dubose scored 24 points and had seven rebounds for the Ravens.
UNIVERISTY SCHOOL (Fla.) 68, NORTHWOOD TEMPLE 60: Vernon Carey Jr., a top-10 ranked sophomore from Fort Lauderdale’s University School, finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds on 12-for-15 shooting from the field.
Northwood Temple’s Mike Hueitt, an Old Dominion recruit, had 18 points on 3-for-8 shooting from behind the arc.
CARY 71, THORNLEA SCHOOL (Canada) 66: Cary advanced to the David West bracket’s fifth place game on Friday.
“It’s a lot more fun to win close games than to lose them,” Cary coach Allan Gustafson said.
Kyle Gensler hit four free throws with under 9 seconds left in the game to help secure the win. He missed a free throw at the end of the Imps’ game against Tampa Catholic on Tuesday that would have won the game. Instead, Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox ended up hitting the game-winner.
“It showed a lot of character for him to get back on the line in almost the exact same situation,” Gustafson said. “You get those negative thoughts in your mind and you have to focus on positive thoughts.”
Cary hit 11 of its 21 attempts from behinid the arc. Jeff Fortuny scored 17 points on five 3-point makes Gensler scored 20 with three 3-pointers.
Donte Tatum scored 12 points in the second half against Cashius McNeilly, the top-ranked point guard in the class of 2020.
MILLBROOK 70, COX MILL 59: After a loss to CAP 8 foe Heritage on Wednesday, Millbrook’s
Patrick Dorsey hit seven 3-pointers, five of which came in the third quarter when the Wildcats outscored the Chargers 28-17, which he believed to be a career-high in a 23-point outing.
Chase Fowler scored 14 points and Adrian Scarborough added another 12. Campbell recruit Jordan Whitfield had seven points and four assists.
TAMPA CATHOLIC (FLA.) 96, J.M. ROBINSON 75: Kevin Knox, who hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round, led the way for Tampa with 27 points and 15 rebounds.
“I thought we’d be a little more ready, but we couldn’t match their intensity and heart and effort tonight,” Cannon coach Lavar Batts Sr. said.
HILLCREST PREP (AZ.) 72, CANNON 64: The top senior in the country, Arizona recruit DeAndre Ayton scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Hawks put on a high-flying show for the fans at Holiday Gym.
Jarius Hamilton, the No. 46 senior in the country, scored 18 points and had the meanest dunk of the tournament.
Ayton, will face off against Tampa Catholic’s Knox in the T.J. Warren bracket title game and the two aren’t unfamiliar. Ayton said he’s played Knox before on the club circuit and that it’ll give him an advantage.
“(Knox) is a runner, he’s a very streaky player. He can play any position on the court. I stopped him (at a tournament) in Indianapolis, I just kept running with him constantly, face guarding him and just getting on his nerves and, you know, talking trash and getting in his head,” Ayton said. “I can tell, he didn’t like it, nobody likes that. That’s the only way we can really do it, just stop in front of him, push the ball and get in front of him.”