Garner’s combination of poise and postseason experience shone through in the second overtime of an 89-80 second-round boys basketball playoff win on Thursday against Broughton.
The Trojans didn’t falter after Broughton hit big shots to send the game into the first and second overtimes.
With the clock ticking down in regulation, the No. 23 seed Capitals needed two points to tie the game up at 61-all against No. 3 Garner. Jalen Finch drove to the basket and was fouled in an attempt to score and calmly hit two free throws to send the game the overtime.
Then, at the end of the first overtime, the Caps were in a similar position and again rose to the occasion as freshman Carson McCorkle knocked down a 3 as time expired to extend the game again in front of a deflated Garner crowd.
But for Garner (27-2), it meant dreams of a run at anothern N.C. High School Athletic Association championship for many of the same players that played on the title team from two years ago are still alive.
“It’s really important to have this one last ride,” Alex Reed, who scored a game-high 25 points, said. “I’ve been here all four years so I know what it takes and I want to give my team the best we can do and that’s a ring.”
For Broughton (16-12), it was a heartbreaking finish, but shined a light on the bright path ahead.
“Our guys didn’t quit, they never stopped believing,” Broughton coach Jeff Farrell said. “They did everything I wanted them to do and … I can’t say enough about our kids, how proud I am. ... We didn’t go down without a fight.”
Finch led the Capitals with 24 points, but did much more than just score. He ran the floor with confidence against the Trojans’ notorious full-court press and spurred Broughton’s 10-point comeback with an array of opportune steals.
“We’re not even playing this game tonight if (Finch) isn’t on our team,” Farrell said. “He just did everything right for us.”
Broughton returns its entire roster next season with the exceptions of Navy recruit Jack Holloway and Jimbo Stanley.
Reed scored 17 of his 25 points after the halftime intermission and his offensive prowess opened up the floor for his teammates, too, particular Demetric Horton who knocked down four 3s and scored 15 points in the second half.
“Horton, he’s just unconscious,” Gray said. “He’s fun to coach. He’s different.”
The Trojans host Leesville Road on Saturday and Gray’s theme for his team will stay the same: just to stay alive.
“I’m real proud of this team,” Garner coach Eddie Gray said. “Our theme has been, since me and my wife went to see Saturday Night Fever at Memorial Auditorium … is ‘staying alive’ and that’s just what we did, we stayed alive.”
Kenyon Burt contributed 22 points for the Trojans.