N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum returns this year as a host venue for Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association basketball championships after renovations kept it out a year ago. With changes to the seating in Reynolds – going from about 8,300 in capacity to 5,500 – the usual lineup of games has changed too.
It’s been standard practice to play 2A and 4A at one site and 1A and 3A at the other, with the order set in stone: 2A girls, 2A boys, 4A girls, 4A boys or 1A girls, 1A boys, 3A girls, 3A boys.
But the biggest problem with basketball venues – as evidenced last weekend at a few regional sites – is fitting everyone in as one games ends and fans from the following game begin to file in.
So the 4A boys game is going to go first. Leesville Road’s boys will get the first game Saturday at 12:05 p.m. when the Pride faces Southwest Guilford. Southeast Raleigh’s girls will follow at 2:35 p.m.
Kestrel Heights’ boys are in the Dean Smith Center and will tip-off at 2:35 p.m. against Lincoln Charter.
Tickets are $10 at the gate or online. Schools are selling 1,000 presale tickets to the public at $9 until they’re sold out.
Leesville’s presale tickets are available each day from noon until 1 p.m. in the main lobby and 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the football stadium on Wednesday and Friday. Southeast Raleigh’s go on sale 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. each day at the school.
At N.C. State
4A boys: 17-Leesvile Road vs 3-Southwest Guilford, 12:05 p.m.
Leesville Road (22-9) and Southwest Guilford (27-3) match up well strength-on-strength. Neither team has a lot of size, and both are blessed with strong backcourts. Two of Southwest Guilford’s losses were to the state’s top private schools and the Cowboys are coming off a 4A West final where they beat previously undefeated Butler. Leesville can liken the Cowboys’ play to that of Garner and Millbrook: Southwest Guilford is averaging 89 points per game.
4A girls: 1-Southeast Raleigh vs 2-Northwest Guilford, 2:35 p.m.
Both teams have a chip on their shoulder from previous runner-up finishes. Southeast Raleigh (31-0) played in the 2014 and 2015 finals, falling to nationally-ranked Myers Park High of Charlotte and Northwest Guilford (29-2) fell at the buzzer last year to Millbrook. Their styles could not be more different. Northwest Guilford has more height and plays methodically, while Southeast Raleigh wants to speed up whoever it plays.
2A girls: 2-Clinton vs 7-North Surry, 5:05 p.m.
Clinton (29-2) could make history no matter what. Duke-bound senior Mikayla Boykin, who averages more than 35 points per game, is seven points shy of tying Sea Ralph’s single-season scoring record (1,135). She’s posted three quadruple-doubles on the season. North Surry (26-5) doesn’t have that same star power, instead relying on depth.
2A boys: 2-Northside (Jacksonville) vs 5-North Surry, 7:35 p.m.
Northside (29-0) made a statement in the East final with a 72-47 shellacking of Greene Central. North Surry (27-4) will try to pull off the boy-girl sweep of the titles. The Greyhounds are in the title game for the sixth time, but the first since 1989.
1A girls: 4-Pamlico County vs 3-Mount Airy, 12:05 p.m.
Mount Airy (29-2) and Pamlico (29-3) are both making their first appearances in the title game. Both like to play at a fast pace and are a combined 3-4 when scoring less than 50 points.
1A boys: 1-Kestrel Heights vs 3-Lincoln Charter, 2:35 p.m.
For the first time, an NCHSAA boys basketball championship will be played with two charter schools. It will be the last game for Durham’s Kestrel Heights (31-1) for the foreseeable future as the state board of education voted to close the high school portion of the school after this academic year. A number of students had been awarded diplomas without meeting certain state credit requirements.
Kestrel is balanced with five players averaging at least 10 points per game. Lincoln Charter (29-4) is led by junior Kody Shuber, who averages 22 points and 7 assists per game.
3A girls: 1-Northern Guilford vs 1-Hickory Ridge, 5:05 p.m.
This is the only game where both 1-seeds made it to the finals. Northern Guilford (30-1) junior Elisa Cunane, a 6-foot-5 N.C. State recruit has the Nighthawks in the title for the second straight year. Harrisburg’s Hickory Ridge (31-0) is hoping for its first NCHSAA title in any sport.
3A boys: 3-Eastern Guilford vs 3-Cox Mill, 7:35 p.m.
Concord’s Cox Mill (26-6) has one of the nation’s top sophomores in Wendell Moore, who already has offers from all the top programs and many think his recruitment will come down to Duke or UNC. Eastern Guilford (29-3) has won 21 straight games.
The Starting 5
The top performers from the East final.
Andreal Bass, Millbrook: Scored seven points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the 4A East final.
Kai Crutchfield, Millbrook: Scored 13 points in the 4A East final.
Tamia Hicks, Southeast Raleigh: Scored eight points, pulled down four rebounds and had four steals off the bench in the 4A East final.
Elana Ingram, Roxboro Community: Had 21 points and nine rebounds in the 1A East final.
Jada McMillian, Southeast Raleigh: Scored 18 points (12 of 16 from the free throw line) in the 4A East final.
Jalen Benjamin, Leesville Road: Scored 18 points in the 4A East final.
Jonathan Mebane, Leesville Road: Scored 18 points in the 4A East final
Shykeim Phillips, South Central: Scored 11 points in the 4A East final.
Javier Rogers, Kestrel Heights: Scored 21 points in the 1A East final.
Day’Ron Sharpe, South Central: Scored six points and had seven rebounds and two blocks in the 4A East final.