Wake County teams have stood in the way of South Central making it to the NCHSAA 4A finals the last two seasons.
Leesville Road and Heritage ended the Falcons’ season in the east regional in 2017 and 2019. Now, one more Wake County school stands in the path of South Central making it to the state finals.
For the second straight season, the Falcons left Winterville, located outside of Greenville, and knocked off a higher ranked opponent in their gym. Last year it was a 69-67 win at Garner. On Tuesday, it was an even more impressive victory as No. 3 South Central dominated No. 2 Wakefield, 79-45.
And once again, another local team stands in the way of the Falcons and a state championship appearance. South Central will take on No. 1 Millbrook, who defeated Fayetteville Seventy-First, 80-71.
The regional finals will be held on Saturday in either Greenville or Fayetteville. The site will be announced later this week.
UNC commit Day’Ron Sharpe led the Falcons with 32 points and enough rim-rattling dunks to please the capacity crowd at Wakefield High. Shy’Quan Jones complimented Sharpe with 17 points, while Jahzeer Baker added 14. Trae Smith led the Wolverines with 21 points.
Sharpe’s dunks were enough to keep the crowd entertained in a contest that South Central (28-1) dominated from the start. The Falcons never trailed and were up by 21 at the half. Wakefield (24-5) tied the score at five in the opening minutes of the game, but were outscored 11-2 the rest of the first quarter.
“Before the game I told them (teammates) to come out here and bust them in the mouth,” Sharpe said. “We’re back to the same stage we’ve been on the last few years and it’s time to finally get over the hump.”
South Central has been a 4A school for six years, and head coach Chris Cherry said their record since moving up to 4A speaks for itself. Cherry has a point. The Falcons have dominated their conference, going 68-4 in league play the last six seasons.
The last three years, South Central has gone 12-0 in Eastern Carolina 3A/4A league. Since moving up, however, their season came to an end at the hands of a Wake County team four of the past five postseasons.
Cherry insisted there was nothing to prove against Wake County teams, however.
“We’re just a proud program,” Cherry said. “We play for each other, we play for the name on the front of the jersey. We have nothing to prove to anybody.”
Wakefield averaged 71.2 points per game their last five games but were smothered by the Falcons. The Wolverines had six turnovers in the first half, and at one point in the first quarter missed seven shots in a row. Wakefield missed six in a row to end the first half and trailed by 28 heading into the fourth.
“We played together,” Sharpe said. “Our game is defense and we showed that we can guard anybody.”
Now the Falcons will have to guard high-scoring Millbrook, a team averaging 82.7 points per game. The showdown between No .1 and No. 3 has been a game fans have been anticipating all season.
Cherry kept it short when asked about the showdown coming up.
“Can’t wait,” Cherry said before walking off.
Cary 45, Wakefield 27
Cary continues to roll on the road, as the No. 5 Lady Imps dominated No. 1 Wakefield, 45-27.
Cary advances to take on No. 1 Southeast Raleigh in the regional final on Saturday. The Bulldogs defeated No. 3 Laney 53-34. Teonni Key led the Lady Imps with 19 points. Tamari Key added 16, while Ariana Smith and Jada Smith each scored 10.
Gabby Donaldson led the Wolverines (27-2) with 20. Wakefield couldn’t overcome a slow start and trailed Cary (20-8) 20-2 after the first quarter of play.
Wakefield pulled within 11 points midway through the second, but went 0-for-4 from the field to end the half as the Lady Imps led 32-19 at the break. Cary started the third quarter on a 6-0 run and never looked back as it heads to the regional this weekend. The east finals will be played in Greenville or Fayetteville. The sites will be announced this week.
Cary has now won 17 of their last 18 games.