The calendar changed, but the Trojans kept rolling Monday night.
In its first March game of the season, Garner’s boys basketball team rolled by Hope Mills South View 93-70 in the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
The Trojans (24-1) will host Northern Durham at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, with a spot in the regional semifinals on the line.
Against South View, Garner held a 10-plus point lead for much of the second and third quarters, but the Tigers closed to within eight points — at 73-65 — with just more than four minutes left.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
But Garner responded in convincing fashion. Thomas Allen scored on back-to-back driving layups and Julius Barnes hit a floating jumper just shy of the foul line on the Trojan’s next three possessions to push the lead back to double-digits.
Barnes finished with a game-high 30 points, while Allen added 19.
“They made it hard on us; they’ve got some great athletes,” said Garner coach Eddie Gray. “We made some poor decisions against their full-court trap, but then we got the ball in the right guys’ hands and we were better with the basketball.”
The Trojans outscored South View 20-5 over the final four minutes of play. With the Tigers fouling to try to get back in the game, Garner made 14 of 16 free throws over the final two-plus minutes of play.
“It helps that free throw shooting a whole lot when we’ve got Julius and Thomas taking the majority of them,” Gray said. “But we did a good job down the stretch in taking advantage of the chances we had at the line.”
Garner frustrated South View’s shooters at times with a mix of effective 1-3-1 and 3-2 zones trying to cover the Tigers’ guards better on 3-point shot attempts.
“We went to a 3-2 defense to try to match up with their outside shooters better to start the second half,” Gray said. “I thought it was an important sequence for us.”
South View missed its first three 3-point shot attempts of the second half and made just four in the entire second half.
The Trojans, although just seven players combined to score the 93 points, got solid contributions from their bench again.
“Andrew Abrom came in and helped us handle the press better,” Gray said. “I thought the whole bench played well. Andrew, K.B. (Kenyon Burt) came in really fresh and gave us solid play.”
Kurt had 13 points off of the bench, while Jashaun Smith joined Barnes, Allen and Burt in double-figures with 14.