The Raleigh Charter girls and boys basketball teams stayed undefeated in North Central Athletic Conference play with wins over Franklin Academy Tuesday night at Moore Square Middle School.
The Phoenix girls held off a fourth quarter rally by the Patriots to win 43-41. Although Raleigh Charter maintained a steady lead through three quarters, its momentum unraveled in the final eight minutes.
A technical foul on the Phoenix bench and a pair of Patriots triples helped Franklin Academy take the lead 41-40. But Raleigh Charter’s Madison Brna came through with three points to take the win.
Brna led Raleigh Charter with 13 points, and Christina Whetzel added eight. Brianna Bennett’s 12 points paced the Patriots, while Emma Bailey scored 10.
The Phoenix boys, on the other hand, dominated with a 73-47 victory. A suffocating full court press led to turnovers and easy fast-break points. Raleigh Charter showcased a deep and talented roster and had four players reach double digits.
John Schuster led Raleigh Charter with 17 points, and Jackson Turner had nine for Franklin Academy.
The Raleigh Charter girls (7-2, 5-0) stayed atop the standings along with Roxboro Community and River Mill Academy. With a win over Franklin Academy, sitting in fifth place, and games against Roxboro Community and River Mill Academy coming up, the Phoenix are in the midst of an important stretch of their schedule.
They almost gave away Tuesday’s game after letting momentum flip, a theme from other games this year.
“We’ve had big leads in games and for some reason lose our focus a little bit,” said Raleigh Charter coach Geoff Huguely. “Luckily we’ve been able to come back in most games and regain it, and we were able to do it here.”
The Patriots (7-6, 4-3) have eight underclassmen on the roster and are still adjusting to the skill and speed of high school basketball. Turnovers were a problem against Raleigh Charter, as they’ve been all season, but there were signs of improvement.
“The offensive plays, they’re starting to run them,” said Franklin Academy coach John Noble. “Before, (the players) would kind of run them. Half would run them. At least most of the girls are running the plays now.”
The Raleigh Charter boys (7-0, 5-0) remain undefeated in the regular season and are showing why they’ll remain in contention for the conference title. The Phoenix feature a balanced team inside and outside and in the starting lineup and on the bench.
They caused turnover after turnover with a feisty press meant to speed up the game. Ben Stroud set the tone early with his energy, scoring and passing. John Schuster helped out with an inside presence. But when they had to sit, guys like Jacob Schuster and Tanner Nichols kept the pressure on Franklin Academy.
Raleigh Charter coach Bobby Lyons said his team, and particularly the seniors, have really grown up in the last year.
“(The seniors) play a lot of ball outside of practice,” Lyons said. “They’re always around each other. The seniors last year were the same type of way, but this year’s seniors is a little more special. They got their eyes on the prize.”
The Patriots, middle of the pack in the conference, are not at the same level as Raleigh Charter just yet but still trying to come together.
One area they’ll look to improve moving forward is the interior defense, as the trio of big men – the Schusters and Nichols – combined for 41 points.
“We guard well out on the perimeter and we have pretty strong guard play,” said Franklin Academy assistant coach Wayne Beatty. “But down on the paint, especially on the defensive end, that’s where we’re hurting.”