Sophomore phenom Wendell Moore Jr. scored 29 points to lead the Cox Mill Chargers to their first state title in their first appearance in the Dean Smith Center.
In a battle of No. 3 seeds, the Chargers defeated the Eastern Guilford Wildcats 70-66 to win the NCHSAA 3A boys’ championship. Cox Mill never trailed.
Both teams played at a breakneck pace — that led to fast-break layups, but also turnovers. Eastern Guilford had 12, and Cox Mill doubled up its opponent with 24.
The first three quarters were low scoring, but the fourth was an offensive explosion. Cox Mill led by 13 points with just under six minutes remaining, and the Wildcats narrowed that margin to three. Their comeback fell short when they were forced to foul Moore, who shot 17-for-20 on free throws.
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The Chargers shot 56 percent and outrebounded the Wildcats 40-23. Moore had 12 of those boards, including a few in the final minutes that kept his team’s lead intact.
Three who mattered
Wendell Moore Jr.: Stuffed the stat sheet with three assists, three blocks and two steals on 50 percent shooting. The 15-year-old was also the game’s MVP.
Jaylen Alston: The Mid-State 3A Conference Player of the Year was the Wildcats’ best player. He scored over a third of his team’s points.
Caleb Stone-Carrawell: Cox Mill’s second leading scorer with 13 points. He added 7 rebounds.
▪ Moore had a monstrous first-quarter block, slowing down and timing his jump perfectly for a two-handed swat of an Eastern Guilford fast-break layup. It was LeBron-esque.
▪ The Wildcats used a frenetic full-court press for the entirety of the game. It wasn’t uncommon to see Cox Mill ball handlers double- and triple-teamed.
▪ Alston was constantly attacking the basket, and he shot a whopping 24 free throws. He made less than half, though, and left 13 points at the line.
▪ Alston swiped the ball from Cox Mill’s Cody Cline and threw down a two-handed dunk to beat the halftime buzzer.
▪ North Carolina coach Roy Williams offered a scholarship to Moore last year. It was only the second time in Williams’ career that’s he given an offer to a freshman — the first was to Duke’s Harry Giles.
▪ Cox Mill, which is located in Concord, wore purple-and-teal jerseys. Seeing a team with this color scheme win a championship is a refreshing sight for fans of the Charlotte Hornets.
1A: Lincoln Charter 97, Kestrel Heights 75
2A: Northside-Jacksonville 86, North Surry 67
3A: Cox Mill 70, Eastern Guilford 63
4A: Southwest Guilford 73, Leesville Road 49
1A: Mount Airy 66, Pamlico 40
2A: Clinton 59, North Surry 49
3A: Northern Guilford 66, Hickory Ridge 64
4A: Northwest Guilford 36, Southeast Raleigh 34