Previews of Observer-area high school basketball teams playing in NCHSAA state championships Saturday in Chapel Hill.
4A Girls: Southeast Raleigh vs. Myers Park
5 p.m. Smith Center
The Story: This is a rematch of the 2014 state finals. Myers Park won 61-46. The Mustangs are the second Mecklenburg County 4A girls’ team to reach back-to-back finals, following West Charlotte in 2008 and ’09 and Myers Park can become the first local 4A team to repeat.
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The Stars: Southeast Raleigh’s Amber Richardson, a 5-foot-11 N.C. State recruit (17 points, 9 rebounds per game), and 6-foot Syracuse recruit Jade Phillips (16 ppg, 10 rpg). Myers Park is led by N.C. State recruit D.D. Rogers (9.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg), the MVP of the 2014 title game, and Southern Cal recruit Aliyah Mazyck (14.5 ppg, 4.0 apg).
The Key: Myers Park, which beat unbeaten Winston-Salem Reynolds then unbeaten and nationally ranked Northwest Guilford in the regionals, will have to deal with Southeast Raleigh’s emotion. Southeast Raleigh wants to, as coach Nicole Sampson Meyers said, “right a wrong” from last year’s final. The Mustangs, ranked No. 4 nationally by USA Today, could go down as an all-time great team with a win. Both teams have ample motivation.
4A Boys: Garner vs. Ardrey Kell
7:30 p.m. Smith Center
The Story: Garner makes its first appearance in the championship round since 1936, when it lost in the final. Garner, which has won 18 straight, avenged its only loss of the season, beating Raleigh Millbrook 84-81 in the Eastern Regional final. Ardrey Kell, which has won 27 straight, is in its first state title game. The Knights are ranked No. 39 nationally by USA Today.
The Stars: Garner sophomore SG Thomas Allen (17.4 ppg) leads the team. Senior Julius Barnes (14 ppg) has more than 1,000 points and more than 450 assists in his career. Ardrey Kell’s Steven Santa Ana, an Elon signee, averages 15.2 ppg. Center Josh Freund (9.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg) has signed with Randolph (Va.). Western Regional all-tournament star Rhyle Scott averages 11.1 points and 6.9 rebounds.
The Key: Garner relies on young players in its rotation. Ardrey Kell is led by six seniors. Experience in the big moment could be key, but Garner’s Barnes, a 5-8 point guard, has played in more than 100 varsity games.
3A Boys: Fayetteville Sanford vs. Ashbrook
7:30 p.m., Carmichael Auditorium
The Story: Ashbrook is in the final for the first time since 1977, when it lost to Gaston County rival Hunter Huss in Charlotte. Terry Sanford lost in the final in 2009 and 2010.
The Stars: Sanford’s Mark Gilbert averages 17.6 points. Ashbrook 6-9 junior Isaiah Whaley averages 18.9 ppg and 8.9 rpg. He was MVP of N.C. 3A Western Regionals
The Key: Ashbrook is a big 3A team, and Sanford’s 6-2 Telligence Johnson, a sophomore, leads his team in rebounding (6.1 rpg). Sanford must handle Ashbrook’s size. Ashbrook will try to take advantage of it.
2A Boys: Kinston vs. East Lincoln
2:30 p.m., Smith Center
The Story: Kinston has won 10 NCHSAA titles and three in a row. Unbeaten East Lincoln is in the final for the first time. East Lincoln won the state football title in December and looks to become the 21st team in NCHSAA history to win football and basketball in the same school year and the first since 1967 to have two unbeaten teams do it. Ayden High had the unbeaten double in 1965-66 and 1966-67.
The Stars: Kinston’s Brandon Ingram (6-9, 190) is a top 15 national recruit considering three N.C. schools (Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State). He averages 21 points and 10 rebounds. Teammate Darnell Dunn averages 12.7 points and 9.6 rebounds. East Lincoln sophomore Sage Surratt (24.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 3.8 apg) is having a big season, as is his older brother, Chazz, a junior (20.5 ppg, 8.3 apg, 6.6 rpg).
The Key: East Lincoln can’t match up with Ingram’s size, so it’ll need to shoot well. The Mustangs practiced at Davidson and at Gardner-Webb to get used to shooting in a large arena.
NCHSAA championships on TV
Time Warner Cable SportsChannel will televise Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association championships from Chapel Hill. Game coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. on Channel 323.
Smith Center – Channel 323
Noon: 2A girls, Kinston vs. Wilkes Central
2:30: 2A boys, Kinston vs. East Lincoln
5: 4A girls, Southeast Raleigh vs. Myers Park
7:30: 4A boys, Garner vs. Ardrey Kell
Carmichael Arena – Channel 324
Noon: 1A girls, Riverside Martin vs. Winston-Salem Preparatory
2:30: 1A boys, East Carteret vs. Winston-Salem Preparatory
5: 3A girls, Chapel Hill vs. Hickory
7:30: 3A boys, Fayetteville Terry Sanford vs. Gastonia Ashbrook