“This is going to be rough.”
That was the grim statement Brian Thornton told his Chapel Hill High teammate David Caraher when the two met to drive for practice last Saturday morning.
They had reason to be glum. The Tigers had been on the receiving end of a 72-47 beating by Orange only 12 hours earlier. The team arrived at the gym to find trash cans lined up around the corners.
Thornton worried he would be seeing his breakfast spill out on the floor before the day ended, but Perkins had other ideas.
“I think they expected me to run them into the ground,” said Perkins. “That didn’t happen. I just wanted to focus on our roots on making Chapel Hill basketball what it is. That’s physical toughness and mental toughness.”
On Friday night, the extra practicing proved worth the effort.
The Tigers went on a 13-2 run inside the final five minutes to rally past Southern Durham 50-47 in their first game since the Orange rout. Caraher paced all players with 16 points and seven rebounds as the Tigers (10-5, 5-1) remained in second place in the Big 8 Conference. Amari Hamilton led the Spartans (6-9, 4-2) with 12 points.
Orange remained undefeated in conference play on Friday with a 94-86 victory over Webb.
Hamilton had a chance to tie in the game’s waning seconds, but Thornton blocked a three-point attempt and Caraher grabbed the loose ball as time expired.
“In the huddle, I told Brian to get Hamilton,” said Caraher. “Hamilton came right to me and we trapped, and Brian got it.”
Certainly the rugged week of practice prepared the Tigers well for the stretch run, when a 9-2 Spartan run put them ahead 45-37 with 5:11 remaining after guard Kendall Hinton hit two free throws.
Caraher and Thornton triggered the game-winning run, with Caraher scoring on a three-point play, followed by Thornton’s two free throws after an offensive rebound.
After going 10-of-21 against Orange at the foul line, the Tigers were 13-of-15 on Friday.
“David was huge,” said Perkins. “He’s an inside-out guy and he wasn’t getting the looks outside, but he was able to get a couple of things inside.”
Andy Gillespie, mired in a 2-11 shooting night, scored on a coast-to-coast drive to narrow the Southern lead to 45-44 with 4:12 remaining.
Chapel Hill controlled the offensive glass in the final three minutes, as Caraher and Karl Hill scored field goals on stickbacks to wrestle away the lead. (Eleven of Chapel Hill’s 29 rebounds were offensive.)
The Tigers bounced out of the gates, building a 19-6 lead in the first quarter behind two 3-pointers from Jamil Walker. The advantage ballooned to 27-14 before Southern went on a 10-0 run to close the first half, capped by a three-pointer from J’Tori Rodgers.
Next week, the Tigers play three games in five days: Cardinal Gibbons, Person and Northwood.
“I think it’s good preparation for the playoffs,” said Perkins. “We get to taper back a little bit because we had only one game this week. We just have to take care of our bodies and not be quite as physical in practice.”
Chapel Hill girls use balance for 15th win
Friday in Durham, junior Raziyah Farrington had 16 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals to lead Chapel Hill’s undefeated girls basketball team to an 80-52 win over Southern Durham.
Catherine Romaine and Jamella Smith each recorded another double-double – Romaine with 12 points and 13 rebounds, Smith with 11 points and 11 boards.
Junior Tamia Eatmon and sophomore Autumn West each added 15 points for Chapel Hill.
Chapel Hill (15-0 overall, 6-0 in the Big Eight) faces one of its biggest tests Tuesday in Raleigh, where the Tigers will take on conference rival Cardinal Gibbons (13-3, 6-0). The Crusaders are 7-1 at home this season.