In the end, the rally fell just a few possessions short.
The St. David’s School boys’ basketball team couldn’t overcome a 12-point hole after three quarters and fell 58-49 to Charlotte’s Northside Christian Academy in the third round of the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association 2A playoffs on Friday.
The Warriors (22-4) cut the deficit to eight quickly in the final quarter and continued to chip away, energized by the large St. David’s student and fan base. Senior Ben Brown, who’d exited in the second quarter with a sprained ankle, returned and hit a pair of corner threes. Kris Monroe, who scored 27 points in the previous round, made a tough layup with the foul.
But despite the success on offense, St. David’s couldn’t string together enough stops as Northside Christian (18-6) continued to attack the rim.
“They’re an attacking team and they’re always coming forward,” said St. David’s coach Will Coley. “They put a lot of pressure on you just defending them. They attack with an intent and a fervor. It keeps you on your heels.”
And then the Warriors’ offensive execution started to crumble too, as they turned it over multiple times in the final two minutes.
“(Northside Christian’s) a very physical team,” Coley said. “They put bodies on you. They put their hands on you. It causes us to lose our discipline on offense a little bit.”
One of the keys for the Knights was stopping Monroe. He struggled to find open looks, as Northside Christian’s Nate Hinton guarded him tightly.
“It was good defensive pressure on their behalf,” Monroe said. “It was mostly me. I didn’t have the right mindset.”
It also didn’t help Monroe that he picked up several early fouls. In the first quarter, he was whistled for an over the back foul, a moving screen and an offensive charge.
Still, Monroe made a few big plays during the St. David’s comeback. And Brown – one of three seniors with Robbie O’Han and Matt Nunnally – fought through a badly swollen left ankle sustained after landing on another player’s foot. He taped it up, took some Motrin and came back to give his team some needed offensive firepower from the outside.
“I just wanted to help the team as much as I could,” Brown said. “I didn’t want to go out there if I couldn’t help them. I figured I’d give it a shot. Once the first one went down, got some confidence, just kept shooting.”
Although Brown won’t suit up for the Warriors again, he still fondly looks back on the season that saw his team reach the state semifinals.
“It was a really magical season,” Brown said. “We started out pretty shaky, but over time really came together and had a great season.”
Coley said the seniors have left an imprint on his program in the three years they’ve all been together.
“This loss doesn’t diminish the season we had, and it definitely doesn’t diminish the season our seniors had,” Coley said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my boys. (The seniors) have set up somewhat of a legacy for the other guys to follow, somewhat of a blueprint.”
One of those younger guys will be Monroe, a sophomore who will be the clear on-court leader for St. David’s next year.
“We were at places nobody thought we’d be,” Monroe said. “We made a run. We’ll be back next year.”