CHAPEL HILL - Somewhere between their 6-1 start at the beginning of the season and their opening games in the Piedmont Athletic Conference schedule, East Chapel Hill High School coach Ray Hartsfield felt his players lost a bit of their intensity.
After an 0-3 start in the PAC-6, Hartsfield decided it was time to get serious. He suspended one player for missing a game and sat down for some straight talk with all the Wildcats.
“We have to win a war – win a true basketball war,” he told them. “We have to keep our focus. We have to be mentally tough.”
Hartsfield got his war Wednesday night against 2A Carrboro, which had won nine of its previous 10 games. Carrboro came into Wildcat Gym at 9-2 overall (5-0 in conference play) and an impressive 6-1 away from home.
It ended up being a wild night.
Following on the heels of the East Chapel Hill girls’ basketball win in overtime against favored Carrboro, the male Wildcats claimed a 65-63 OT win Wednesday against the Jaguars.
“I was so pleased to see us have to fight and claw, fight and claw, defend, have to come back, and to come out with a win,” Hartsfield said. “That just reinforces what we need to do in every game.”
The teams traded leads throughout the first three periods, with neither able to get more than one possession ahead in the fourth. Carrboro appeared to be in control when it took a 55-52 lead on a layup by Mclean Phipps and then got the ball back after a Wildcat miss with about one minute left in regulation.
But the Jaguars went for the ‘Cats jugular and missed a jumper with 19 seconds left, allowing East to set up a last play. The Wildcats’ plans went awry when the ball got loose just inside the arc, but senior Justen Best scooped it up and, as regulation dwindled to the last second, he launched a one-handed 3-pointer to tie the game at 55.
“Justen is a senior. He knew we needed a three,” Hartsfield said “I was just shocked that they did not foul us when we were dribbling the ball around.”
Tykeem Woodard, a transfer from Carrboro, came up big for East in the overtime, hitting two layups in an 8-3 run to help the ‘Cats take a 65-60 lead.
Matt MacKinnon got Carrboro back within 65-63 with his fourth 3-pointer of the night. The Jaguars got one last chance at the basket after James Scott swatted away an East shot with 14 seconds left, but Scott’s two handed layup at the other end rimmed out as time expired.
“That was just crazy,” Carrboro coach John Alcox said. “We got the shot we wanted. We didn’t think we needed a three, so we just attacked the basket. It just didn’t fall.”
Carrboro’s Tra Sharp led all scorers with 18 points, while MacKinnon added 14 and Marlin Johnson 12.
Best ended up with 15 points and Woodard 13, while Jake Hilkey led East Chapel Hill with 16 points. Malik McCray chipped in 10 points.
Alcox said the non-conference loss wouldn’t derail the Jaguars’ plans in Carolina-12 league play.
“No, not at all. We’re building towards the end of the season, and this is just one step along the way,” Alcox said. “I’m sure the guys are disappointed, but this is over. We’ll move on. We are now looking at our next opponent – DSA.”Girl BasketballECH 65, Carrboro 55 (OT)
Carrboro made a classic mistake Wednesday night in its girls’ basketball game at East Chapel Hill. The Jaguars waited and waited for East, which had lost four straight, to implode.
Instead, as the game went on and the Wildcats hung tough, they grew more confident.
Carrboro (8-4) got eight points from Camille Gallagher in a 1-minute span to grab a 33-19 lead in the second half, but East (3-9) answered with a 15-3 run.
After the game went to overtime tied at 51, East got up early in OT on baskets by Adrienne Davis and Teara Holt. East freshman point guard Ali Cyr-Scully then held off a Jaguar rally by hitting six straight free throws in the last 1:06 to ice a 65-55 win.
“This was huge — huge,” East coach Michelle Wood said. “The last couple of games, we’ve been right there, really close. … I told the players, ‘If you just keep fighting, keep on playing hard, we will turn the corner.’ They just played smart, played aggressive, and didn’t foul. We hit the shots we needed when we needed to, and we hit our free throws.”
Carrboro was hurt when team-leader Diamond Tyson fouled out with 24 seconds left in OT after scoring 25 points. Gallagher, playing in OT with four personals, finished with 21 points.
East’s Cyr-Scully, 10-for-10 at the line, led all scorers with 27 points, while Davis had 13 before she fouled out in OT along with Jazmine Daye, and Holt chipped in 11 points.
East was also missing starter Sarah Towne in overtime after she sprained her left knee.Friday’s games
Carrboro bounced back the next night with a pair of Carolina-12 Conference wins over the Durham School of the Arts.
The Carrboro girls (9-4, 4-2 conference) got 24 points and eight rebounds from Diamond Tyson as they won 60-50, and the Carrboro boys stayed undefeated in league games (10-3 overall, 6-0 conference) with a 77-36 blowout of the visiting Bulldogs.
East Chapel Hill also returned to conference play Friday night, hosting Southern Durham.
The East Chapel Hill girls fell to 3-10 overall and 1-4 in the PAC-6 with a 52-36 loss.
East Chapel Hill’s boys (9-7 overall, 0-4 PAC) started strong and led 11-0 early but faded in the fourth quarter as they lost 44-39 against Southern (7-8, 2-3 PAC).