Both Orange basketball teams will get third-round home playoff games after the boys won 69-54 against Southern Guilford and the girls held off Havelock 81-77.
Orange came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, outscoring the Storm 15-6 in the first quarter, led by Connor Crabtree’s seven points.
While Crabtree had a big night on Tuesday, it was more of a team effort in this one as Orange took advantage of their size advantage on the inside, consistently going to Mitch Portman (18 points) and Logan Vosburg (20 points)
“We don’t care who scores, as long as we win,” said Logan Vosburg. “If (Connor) is hot, then he’s hot. But otherwise we like to get everyone to contribute”
Orange coach Greg Motley said it wasn’t necessarily the game plan to spread the ball around, but praised his star guard for recognizing the advantage on offense.
“It was really the way the defense was playing,” said Motley “We had to adjust our offense to that. It took Connor out of scoring the ball and put him in more of a facilitator role.”
Orange held a 14 point advantage at halftime, but once again came out a bit flat in the third quarter with the big lead and the home crowd on their side. Motley didn’t believe it was a lack of focus that led to the third quarter run by Southern Guilford, instead crediting Southern Guilford for changing up their attack.
“Our focus level was better,” said Motley. “They threw something at us and our kids just panicked a bit. Once we settled down and recognized it, things were fine.”
Poor 3-point shooting did the Storm in as they went 6 of 30 from downtown.
Motley was happy with the defense, and knew that they would have to give up those shots in order to protect the paint.
“They’re a quick team. So we wanted to clog the lane and make them shoot from the outside,” said Motley.
Havelock opened up the game on a 13-3 run in the first two minutes and thirty seconds as the Panthers starters turned the ball over five times during that stretch. That’s when head coach B.J. Condron inserted Icez Barnett and Lauren Cates for a shot of energy.
Cates and Barnett paid immediate dividends, leading a 16-6 run to close the quarter and knotting the score at 19 after one. Barnett had eight points in the quarter while Cates knocked down her only three attempt. Cates continued to lead the charge into the second quarter, where she knocked down two more triples and added a pair of free throws.
“Icez and I, we knew how bad we wanted it,” said Cates. “Before the game, we declared war and that’s what we brought.”
Despite the spark off the bench, the Panthers found themselves in a 40-36 hole due the play of Havelock sophomore NyAsia Blango, who scored 12 points in the second quarter.
Orange trailed 50-51 in the final minutes of the third quarter, but closed the quarter on a 9-0 run led by Jazlyn Watson.
“That run gave us a cushion,” said Condron. “We knew that no lead is safe with them because they have some good three point shooters.”
While Condron may have been worried about the range of Havelock, the Rams showed little of it in this one. Havelock hit only six of their 28 attempts from three.
Havelock were able to survive a poor night from beyond the arc thanks to free throws and turnovers. Havelock forced 26 turnovers and knocked down 19 free throws. Orange struggled from the line, shooting 18/31 in the game.
“The game would have been a lot easier if we hit those free throws,” said Condron. “And the turnovers, we just make silly mistakes. Some of that is playoff experience.”
The Rams tried to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, but the clutch free throw shooting of Kaylen Campbell (9/10 from the line in fourth) slammed the door shut.