Gastonia Ashbrook boys’ basketball coach Chad Duncan’s coaching career will end when the Green Wave’s season ends. Duncan has accepted a job as Gaston County’s director of athletics.
But neither he nor his young Green Wave team is ready for anything to end just yet.
Ashbrook – which has only three seniors – came out steaming offensively in its N.C. 3A regional semifinal with Ledford on Thursday at Joel Coliseum, running out to an 18-3 lead in what eventually became an easy 66-44 win. Ashbrook led 26-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Green Wave (22-3) made the N.C. 4A Western Regional championship for the second time in school history. The last time was in 1993. Ashbrook, which will play Crest in Saturday’s regional final, was runner-up to Gaston County neighbor Hunter Huss in the 1977 N.C. 4A championship, but there wasn’t a regional format played that year. The 1977 Ashbrook team featured a 6-foot-9 forward named James Worthy.
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This year’s team features a 6-9 junior forward named Isaiah Whaley. Whaley had 13 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, two steals and two assists Thursday.
“We played fantastic defense,” Duncan said, “and offensively, in the first half, we were hot. That always helps. I was very proud of how our guys played. I told the guys, ‘Yeah for today, but we’ve got work to do (Friday) and to get ready for Saturday.”
Crest 63, Cuthbertson 54: Crest advanced to the regional final, busting open a tight game late. Crest led 46-44 with 3 minutes, 26 seconds to play but made six of its final eight shots – all layups – to advance.
Crest (23-5) got 21 points from senior Jerick Haynes. Crest also got 18 points from junior Jaylon Wray. Cuthbertson, which improved from 5-19 last season to 22-6 this season, got 13 points from Matt Allen and 12 from Anthony Pandoli.
Crest will try to beat Ashbrook for the first time in three tries Saturday.