Back-to-back North Central Athletic 1A Conference basketball tournament champions were crowned in both the boys and girls games Friday night.
Voyager Academy overcame a double-digit fourth quarter deficit to hand Kestrel Heights their first lost on the year in a 90-82 overtime thriller in the boys matchup and, for the girls, it was Roxboro Community that ended the year with a perfect conference record in their 65-44 win against River Mill Academy.
Voyager Academy (24-7) erased a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to upset top-seeded Kestrel Heights.
Kestrel Heights looked like it was inching toward the finish line by going 6-for-6 at the free throw line over the final 75 seconds.
But sloppy play down the stretch, and a foul that resulted in two free throws by Jordan Love to get the Vikings within two points with 11 seconds left, kept things interesting until the very end.
Keeping with their full-court pressure, Voyager forced a turnover, and Blake Buchanan made a layup with 3 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
“Coach always tells me he wants me to be the guy and to push everybody, and that’s what I did,” said Love, who finished with a team-high 28 points.
In the overtime session, Love scored nine of his team’s 15 points to edge the Hawks for the first time in three tries this year. The first two defeats totaled seven points, but finally they solved their rivals.
Kestrel Heights’ (26-1) bid for a perfect year ended in a shocking collapse. Though the Hawks quest for perfection ended on a sour note, they should receive the top seed in next weeks’ playoffs.
Javier Rogers, the player of the year winner, scored 28 points, as Devon Ortiz had 23, and David Mangum contributed 10.
Roxboro Community (26-3) pushed its win streak to 17 games as it won the conference tournament a second straight year.
With both Roxboro and River Mill struggling to make shots early, Roxboro’s defense was able to produce more chances thanks to their full-court press and tight defense. With just a two-point lead after one quarter, the Bulldogs held a double-digit lead the rest of the game to cruise to the win.
“It wasn’t the kind of game I was expecting tonight. We had a comfortable lead, but we started off very sluggish early in the game. Turnovers. It was probably the most turnovers we had all season,” said Roxboro coach Brian Cousin.
The Bulldogs were led by player of the year winner Elana Ingram, who scored a game-high 27 points, and Mya Johnson had 23.
River Mill Academy (19-12), the host school for the tournament, trailed for the entire game. The Jaguars kept it close, in large part to Morgan Mebane’s nine quick points in the first quarter. Mebane finished with 14.
A conference title might mean a little more to other coaches, but not for Roxboro coach Brian Cousin, who has a larger title in his sightlines.
“I just wanted to get the game over,” admitted Cousin. “This game means nothing to me compared to the next one (state playoffs). ... It’s impressive to have (the conference title). I’m happy; I’m excited about it. But people don’t talk about conference championships. All you hear about is state championships and wins.”