For 31 minutes, 45 seconds, Fayetteville’s Sanford High looked to be in position to win another state championship.
But in a strange series of events over the final 15 seconds, Concord’s Jay M. Robinson ripped that chance away.
The sequence led to a 59-55 Robinson victory over Terry Sanford at Carmichael Arena on Saturday night for its first NCHSAA 3A boys state basketball title.
Daniel Spencer scored a game-high 24 points, including a layup with 15 seconds left that gave Robinson (29-3) a 56-55 lead, its first since the opening minute of Saturday’s game.
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Lavar Batts Jr. added 16 points and five assists, including the set-up for Spencer’s game-winner; and Jordan McKenzie had 11 for Robinson.
“It wasn’t a set play, but I knew Lavar was going to drive,” to the basket, Spencer said. “He told me to go to the block. Once he dumped it down, I had to be ready to finish it, and I did.”
Then the strangeness began.
Terry Sanford, which led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, missed three in-close opportunities (two by Javonte Trammell) for the game-winning basket in the closing seconds.
The last miss turned into a scramble for the ball on the floor between Robinson’s Javonte Misenheimer and three Terry Sanford players – a scramble that nearly turned into a brawl.
While the scramble ensued under Terry Sanford’s basket, two spectators ran onto the court, with one reportedly punching Robinson’s Rashon Gray in the side of the head.
After several minutes, game officials called three fouls on Terry Sanford – a personal foul and flagrant technical foul on Telligence Johnson, and a technical foul on Shamon Elliott.
That led to six free throws for Robinson, plus possession of the ball with 0.3 seconds remaining. Robinson hit 3 of 6 from the line, and as Terry Sanford’s players stood by the bench in protest, ran out the clock.
“That was the craziest sequence I’ve ever been a part of,” Robinson coach Lavar Batts Sr. said. “I’ve seen some crazy sequences, but that one was really crazy.”
Quote: “We’ve been down the last three weeks in almost every game. For whatever reason, these guys like adversity. I don’t know why, but they do. I’m glad they came out on top.” – Batts Sr.
Worth mentioning: Stallings finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Justin King had 10 points for Terry Sanford (30-2). … Robinson shot 51.2 percent from the field (22-of-43), but made just four of 13 3-point attempts. But Robinson held Sanford to 28 percent shooting in the second half (7-of-25) and 1-of-8 on 3-point tries.