Green Hope upsets Athens Drive in Tri-6 tournament

Athens Drive’s Chase Graham (2) and Tevon Johnson (3) tie up Green Hope’s Justin Graham (4). The Athens Drive Jaguars and the Green Hope Falcons met in the Tri-6 Conference Finals in Cary, N.C. on February 20, 2019.
Athens Drive’s Chase Graham (2) and Tevon Johnson (3) tie up Green Hope’s Justin Graham (4). The Athens Drive Jaguars and the Green Hope Falcons met in the Tri-6 Conference Finals in Cary, N.C. on February 20, 2019.

The Green Hope revenge tour continues.

The Falcons, the No. 5 seed in the Tri-6, upset No. 1 Athens Drive, 65-55, in double overtime Wednesday afternoon at Panther Creek High School. The Jaguars swept Green Hope in the regular season, but the third time was the charm for the Falcons, who knocked off Cary, 55-46, in the opening round on Monday.

Green Hope (11-15) outscored Athens Drive (18-7) 14-4 in the two overtime periods. The Jaguars went the final 1:53 of regulation without a field goal and shot 1-11 from the field in the two overtime periods. Their only points in the second overtime came from a pair of free throws from guard DJ Robertson (16 points).

“What we are doing a good job of I think is defensively,” Falcons head coach John Green said. “If you look at our scores, the tempo of the game and scores are kind of what we like. Tonight was a little bit of the same. We did a good job of getting some defensive stops.”

Robertson had 43 points the last time the two teams played. Before the start of the game, the Falcons were called for a technical for dunking in warm ups. Robertson hit one of two free throws before the game officially started, but that would be as easy as it would get for the Northern Kentucky commit.

Green Hope’s Justin Grant led the Falcons with 30 points, nine clutch points coming in the two overtime periods.

“He played like a senior tonight,” Green said. “He started the game by knocking some shots down, and when he knocked those outside shots down, it opened the lane for him to penetrate.”

Grant’s layup tied the game at 53 in the first overtime, and he gave Green Hope a three-point lead after scoring three in a row. Grant and PJ Fenton (16) put the game away, going a combined 8-8 from the line down the stretch.

The first overtime produced just four points between the two teams, but the Falcons got it going in the second four-minute period, outscoring Athens Drive 12-2.

“The tempo that we wanted, we would certainly take it,” Green said. “We were trying to have long possessions on offense. We wanted to slow them down. The slower pace the game was, the better. They came out hot in the first quarter and I just told our guys to weather the storm and eventually they would hopefully start missing those shots.”

In the opening quarter, the Jaguars were hot from outside, knocking down five 3s, but the Falcons hung in there, tying the game three times, first at 9 after a Taveras Vann layup. Consecutive 3s from Grant tied the game at 15 and then 18.

Green Hope got the edge in the second quarter, outscoring Athens Drive 8-6, but still trailed by one at the break. The Jaguars only hit one shot from the field in the second, a layup from Tevon Johnson to make it 23-20, but depended on free throws the rest of the way.

The Falcons went up 25-23 after a 3 from Jake Beja, but that lead was short lived. Athens ended the half with a pair of free throws from Chase Graham, who was fouled shooting a 3, and two more from Johnson.

Late in the fourth quarter, trailing by three, Fenton scored an old-fashioned three-point play to tie the game at 51, and almost hit a game-winner with one second left in regulation.

Green Hope split with Cary in the regular season before knocking them off on Monday. After defeating Athens Drive for the first time this season, the Falcons will continue look to continue riding the wave.

“We are playing for our lives right now,” Green said. “We are on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Our playoffs starting before the conference tournament did. We were playing in must-win games. The seniors aren’t ready to let it go, nobody is ready to let it go. One game at a time knowing that are playing for our lives and we are playing some of the best basketball that we have all year.”


The Cary women’s team, the top seed in the Tri-6 conference, extended their winning streak to 14 games after a 78-61 win over Athens Drive.

The game was tied late in the second quarter, but the Imps advance to the title game after a strong second half, and a combined 47 points from Tamari and Teonni Key. Tamari, a Tennessee commit, scored 26 points to lead the Imps.

“It was a tough fight,” Cary head coach Patrick Daly said. “We really struggled to get a hand up on a lot of their (Athens) shots, but I’m proud of my girls for hanging in there.”

It was the 100th career win for Daly.

The Imps, who haven’t loss a game since Nov. 15, have been playing with a survive and advance mindset for the last few weeks. The conference tournament is a time where they want to take care of business and ride that momentum into the postseason.

“It’s very important,” Daly said. “We’ve been on a really good roll now and that’s been our attitude in this win streak. We want to play our best, this is postseason. We understand we are going to make the state playoffs, but we want to win a conference championship as well.”

Hanna Malik led the Jaguars with 21 points.

Athens made it close early, and Daly realized his team had to master the ‘survive’ part of survive and advance.

“There are no more easy games,” Daly said. “I thought we did a pretty good job responding today.”

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.