Chapel Hill senior Parker Hill knew his team needed to listen to the message from head coach Rodney Carter heading into the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A playoffs.
Carter instructed his team that every man needed to concern himself with the defensive end of the floor, and the senior-laden team listened.
Chapel Hill, the No. 21 seed, defeated host and Cape Fear Valley conference champ Southern Lee 50-44 in the second round on Thursday.
The No. 5 Cavaliers had scored 80 points against Havelock in the first round.
The road warrior Tigers (16-12) had won a 44-40 defensive contest against No. 9 Nash Central in the first round, and will travel to No. 16 seed Northern Guilford on Saturday for third round action.
“I think it starts and ends with our defense,” said Hill. “We knew coming into the playoffs that we needed to hold teams to about 40 points, especially playing away. We have been buying into what our coaches say, we’re a family, and we’re starting to play like it.”
Chapel Hill led Southern Lee (18-9) through all but the early part of the game, and took a 29-22 advantage into halftime.
The Cavaliers cut the lead to four points midway through the third period, but the Tigers defense held, allowing senior Cory Jones (9 points), Maxwell Conolly (13) and Elijah Haynes (10) to take over at the offensive end and lead them to an 11-point cushion with six minutes to play in the fourth.
“We got healthy at the right time and we’ve played some very tough competition all season,” Carter said. “We told the kids everybody has to ‘D’ up, and they listened.”
Southern Lee senior Darius Sellers led all scorers with 16 points, including four three pointers, and Nate Thompson chipped in 10 points.
The Cavaliers had scored 80 points on Tuesday, but ran into a healthy and opportunistic Tiger squad that never let them get completely comfortable playing their usual fast-paced game.
“You have to tip your hat to Chapel Hill, they played a great game,” said Southern Lee head coach Gaston Collins. “We like to play fast and they beat us at our own game. We graduated nine from last year, so for us to get here I am extremely proud of my guys.”
Along with Sellers, other Cavalier seniors included Ce’Vaun Kinney, Caleb Thomas, Raekwon McLean, Will Scott, KaShaun Boykins, Sadarius Cross and Donovan Kenerson.