Southeast Raleigh’s girls and Garner’s boys winning basketball championships in the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference is nothing but the norm. But Thursday night at Campbell University’s Gore Arena, the pair of 2015 state finalists both overcame big deficits – against a pair of familiar challengers – to capture the league’s tournament championships.
Southeast’s top-seeded girls beat East Wake, 45-43, and top-seeded Garner beat Clayton 76-65 in the boys final.
McMillian saves Bulldogs
Southeast trailed for the majority of the night in a low-scoring game with East Wake, the only team to beat the Bulldogs in league play this season. Southeast (24-3) trailed by six with four minutes to play but worked itself back even on two Kia Abrams free throws with 1:55 to play.
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Then, after a Warrior miss with 1:01 to play, the Bulldogs held for the last shot. Southeast put the ball in the hands of sophomore guard Jada McMillian who drove from the left wing of the 3-point line across the lane and put up a running scoop shot with less than a second on the clock. The ball banked in off the glass for the win almost a second after the buzzer sounded.
“I just started to attack the basket with about 10 seconds left,” McMillian said. “I was just trying to get as close to the basket as I could. I didn’t know how much time was left but I could hear the crowd getting louder so I knew I had to get the shot up then even though I was in a crowd.”
Abrams led Southeast with 15 points and Tamia Davis added 13 off of the bench.
East Wake’s Mikieja Covington, whose drives to the basket took their toll on the Bulldogs, had a game-high 16.
Trojans make it 43 in a row
Clayton led Garner by 15 early in the second quarter, but the Trojans showed why they are one of the best offensive teams in the state, erasing that deficit with a solo scoring spurt (12 points without anyone else in the game scoring during that stretch) by standout junior guard Thomas Allen.
The Trojans (25-2) kept that string going for the rest of the half, ending the frame on a 25-9 run for a 35-34 lead at the break.
However, Clayton wouldn’t let it end there. The Comets (21-6) erased an eight-point deficit in the third quarter and led 58-54 after a basket by Tre Armstead jumper with 5:17 to play. But Allen hit a 3 for Garner’s next basket and the Trojans never trailed again, wrapping up their 43rd consecutive victory over a conference opponent.
“Clayton is not a good team for us to match up with,” said Garner coach Eddie Gray. “We were real fortunate to get back in the ball game when we did.”
Allen poured in 35 for the Trojans. Darius Stevens led Clayton who has won 13 of its last 15 (both losses to Garner), with 18 points. Stevens scored 12 of the Comets first 14 points.
Best: 919-524-8895; @dclaybest