Ardrey Kell head coach Michael Craft calls his star senior Steven Santa Ana “a winner” who will do whatever it takes to win.
Tuesday night in the 4A third round of the state playoffs, the Elon signee needed to score to help his team, so he poured in a game-high 24 points to lead his Knights (26-1) to a comfortable 54-38 victory over Lake Norman (17-9) at Ardrey Kell.
“I can’t say enough good things about Steven,” Craft said. “He scores, defends, rebounds, passes; there’s nothing he won’t do to help this team get a win.”
Ardrey Kell avenged a loss to Lake Norman in last year’s regionals that ended their season, but this one was never really in doubt. Santa Ana and Rhyle Scott combined for 13 first-quarter points as the Knights led 20-11.
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In the second quarter it was the defense, which held Lake Norman scoreless for over four minutes and limited the Wildcats to only six points. Santa Ana had two alley-oop dunks and Ardrey Kell was in control, 32-17, at the half.
In the second half the lead grew to as large as 19, after a Santa Ana three-pointer midway through the third. Lake Norman tried to get back in it, as Hunter Seacat scored Lake Norman’s next eight points to close to 43-30 with 5:50 left.
But Ardrey Kell would not be denied, and in the final minutes Santa Ana put an exclamation on the victoryHe stole a Lake Norman pass and going in for a dunk for his final basket in his home gym.
“That’s a nice way to go out,” Santa Ana said, “but this was a team effort. The guys did a good job getting me the ball and I tried to take what the defense gave me. We wanted to make this a special night.”
Scott added 11 points for Ardrey Kell, who advance to the regional semifinals in Winston-Salem Friday where they will face Greensboro Page. Lake Norman was led by Seacat’s 14 points while David Scott added 12.
Ardrey Kell girls 62, Hopewell 29 The Ardrey Kell girls held Hopewell without a field goal for an eight-minute stretch in the first half and ran away to a 62-29 victory in a 4A third-round game.
Ardrey Kell (25-2) led just 13-12 after the first quarter, but went on a 13-0 run in the second quarter to take command and they led 28-16 at the half.
Hopewell (23-4) cut the deficit to 28-22 by scoring the first six of the third quarter, but Ardrey Kell’s defense took over, allowing the Titans just one field goal over the next 7:10 and taking control of the game.
Chase Muhammad had 18 points and sister Jordan Muhammad added 14 for Ardrey Kell, who advance to the regionals where they will face top-seeded Northwest Guilford on Thursday. Hopewell was led in scoring by Ineesha Hankerson’s eight points while Katie Dillon added seven.