When the Apex girls won their first-round N.C. High School Athletic Association basketball playoff game against Rolesville on Tuesday, that was supposed to have been the last game in the Cougars’ home gymnasium before it – and the rest of the school – is demolished over the summer and rebuilt.
But the Apex and Clayton boys had other plans.
Thanks to Apex’s upset win in Wilmington over Hoggard High, and Clayton’s overtime upset at Cary, the Cougars (16-10) will host No. 30 Clayton (14-12) in Thursday’s second-round game.
Apex might not be done either. If the Cougars win and Athens Drive (16-10) upsets South Central (24-1), No. 19 overall seed Apex would host the No. 22 Jaguars. After that, however, Apex (16-10) would be on the road no matter what.
THE STARTING 5
The top performers from the first round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
MaCaleb Roberston, Clayton: Made two free throws with 0.5 seconds left to win 56-54 at Cary in the 4A playoffs.
Connor Crabtree, Orange: Scored 36 points in a 78-66 win against Gray’s Creek in the 3A playoffs.
Jalen Finch, Broughton: Scored the game-winner as time ran out to lift the Caps to a 44-42 win at Hillside in the 4A playoffs.
Alex Reed, Garner: Scored 26 points in a 80-78 win against Riverside in the 4A playoffs.
Javonte Smith, South Johnston: Scored 32 points in a 63-61 loss to Southern Guilford in the 3A playoffs.
Talia Barnes, Jordan: Scored 23 points in an 87-79 overtime loss to East Wake in the 4A playoffs.
Nia Washington, Green Hope: Scored 20 in a 58-35 win over Clayton in the 4A playoffs.
Anya Poole, Southeast Raleigh: Scored 22 in a 76-26 win over Person in the 4A playoffs.
Alissa Smalls, Heritage: Scored 25 points in a 77-52 win over Panther Creek in the 4A playoffs.
Brittany Staves, Leesville Road: Scored 28 points in a 62-52 win over Cary in the 4A playoffs.
Girls: No. 1 4A East seed Southeast Raleigh (27-0) will face No. 17 East Wake (18-8) for the third time this year. No. 6 Green Hope will get a strong challenge from No. 10 Hoggard. No. 3 Millbrook (25-3) will be matched in athleticsm by No. 15 Holly Springs (20-7)
But perhaps the biggest 4A showdown will be No. 12 Knightdale (21-6) at No. 5 Hillside (24-3).
In 3A, underdog No. 23 Cedar Ridge (14-13) hosts No. 27 Corinth Holders (13-11) after both earned upset wins. No. 4 Union Pines (24-3) hosting No. 11 Nash Central (17-8) and No. 5 Rocky Mount (20-3) hosting No. 14 Northwood (22-6) could go either way.
No. 16 2A seed North Johnston (18-7) will try to upset conference foe No. 7 SouthWest Edgecombe (19-4).
Boys: 4A East No. 1 Heritage (27-1) will get a test from No. 14 Northern Durham (19-7).
No. 10 Millbrook (21-7) has a good chance at knocking off Seventy-First (24-4) while No. 17 Leesville Road (18-9) will head to No. 5 Overhills (20-5). The most Triangle tradition-rich matchup is No. 23 Broughton (16-11) at No. 3 Garner (26-2).