Concord Cox Mill boys basketball coach Jody Barbee didn’t think his team, No. 3 in the Charlotte Observer’s Sweet 16 poll, played very well in a first round playoff win Tuesday.
Cox Mill opened defense of its state championship with a 67-24 win over Asheboro. But Barbee saw a lot of things he didn’t like.
“We gambled too much. We were kind of lazy in some defensive rotations,” Barbee said. “But I think the better teams are, the harder my kids are going to play. They’re typical teenage kids. It’s hard to get them geared up to play somebody they feel they’re that much better than.”
That wasn’t the case in Thursday’s second round. The Chargers whipped Southwest Guilford 78-34 in a game that will definitely send a message to all of the other N.C. 3A state championship contenders.
Southwest Guilford won the N.C. 4A state championship last season and Barbee said the Cowboys returned eight players off that team. Southwest dropped to 3A this season and lost their two top returning players when twin brothers Keyshaun and Kobe Langley transferred to private High Point Wesleyan Christian, which has turned out to be the state’s best team, public or private.
Still the Cowboys had won eight of their past 10 games and had finished third in the Piedmont Triad conference.
So, unlike Tuesday’s Asheboro win, this was a game that got the Chargers’ attention. And Cox Mill put on a show.
“We thought it would be a fight,” Barbee said, “but if we play the way we’re capable of, start to finish, I like our chances.”
That’s kind of what you expect when you return the bulk of your state championship team and add a top national recruit in 6-foot-8 wing Rechon “Leaky” Black, a senior who will play for Roy Williams at North Carolina next season.
And right now, Black appears to shaken off a nagging hip injury and the Chargers seem to have shaken off whatever pre-tournament doldrums they had. It’s time to get into position to win a ring now, and Cox Mill seems awful ready.
Cox Mill lost three times in eight days in December, falling to Providence Day, Long Island Lutheran and DeMatha (MD) Catholic at the Chick-Fil-A Classic and the Beach Ball Holiday tournament. But the Chargers haven’t lost since Dec. 30 and have won 14 straight.
The average margin of victory in that run? It’s just 34.5 points per game.
“I knew we had a chance to be really good,” Barbee said. “And when we play like we’re capable, we’re pretty dad gum good. We took three losses over Christmas and that was fine. It prepares us for what we’ll see in the playoffs, starting tonight and then Saturday against Mount Tabor. Everybody has given us the state championship from the get-go and that’s tough to ask a bunch of teenagers to answer the bell every single night.”
But, like Barbee said, his team can be “pretty dad gum good.” And if they continue to be, they’ll get a shot at another championship in a few weeks.
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↑North Mecklenburg: Vikings won their 46th straight home game in a 95-64 win over Myers Park in the second round of the N.C. 4A playoffs.
↑Patrick Williams, West Charlotte: game-high 32 points in a 74-66 loss to No. 2 Independence.
↑Alex Cluff, Pine Lake Prep: Scored his 1,000th point in an 82-77 win over Mountain Island Charter. Cluff finished with 23 points. Teammates Josh Barnette and D’Marco Small had 22 points each.
↑Ardrey Kell at home: the Knights beat Greensboro Grimsley 71-59 Thursday to improve to 10-0, all-time, in NCHSAA home playoff games. Navy recruit David Kasanganay made four 3-point shots and had 26 points. Sophomore Luke Stankavage had 25 points, including going 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. The Knights (23-5) move into the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in school history.
Thursday’s #BIG5 Top Performers
Jamarius Burton, Matthew Smith, Independence: Burton had 19 points, eight assists, five rebounds and a steal in a 74-66 win over West Charlotte. Smith had 15 points, nine rebounds. Raja Milton (12 points, four assists), Miles Pauldin (11 points, three rebounds) and Jordan Mobley (10 points, two rebounds, two assists) had good games.
Wendell Moore, Leaky Black, Caleb Stone-Carrawell, Concord Cox Mill: Moore had 26 points, six rebounds in a 78-34 win over Southwest Guilford. Black had 14 points, six rebounds and six steals. Stone-Carrawell had 12 points.
Kody Shubert, Jehlon Johnson, Levontae Knox, Lincoln Charter: 29 points, five assists in a 96-72 win over Union Academy in a second round 1A playoffs. Johnson (17 points, 16 rebounds) and Knox (16 points, 12 rebounds) also had good games for the reigning NCHSAA 1A champions.
Jaden Springer, Rocky River: 28 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and four blocks in a 76-65 win over Hopewell.
Jae’Lyn Withers, Tristan Maxwell, Chris Ford, North Mecklenburg: Vikings trio led North Mecklenburg, No. 1 in the Sweet 16, to a 95-64 win over Myers Park. Withers had 29 points, 11 rebounds. Maxwell had 25 points and Ford had 14 points, seven rebounds.
How The Sweet 16 Fared
No. 4 Charlotte Catholic 61, Marvin Ridge 39: Luke Harkins had 19 points and Riley Berger had 12 in an easy win for the Cougars in the second round of the N.C. 3A playoffs. Catholic led 17-3 after the first quarter and 29-9 at halftime. Sean Rogan had 11 points and Nick Scibelli added 10 for Catholic. David Vogt had 11 points to lead Marvin Ridge.
No. 8 Butler 51, East Forsyth 43: Butler scored 15 of the first 18 points before East Forsyth fought back to grab a 24-23 lead. The game was tied at 41 with 3:10 left, before Butler pulled away. East Forsyth didn’t score again until a layup with 10 seconds left. Butler made 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch. Queens recruit DJ Little led the Bulldogs (24-5) with 20 points. New Orleans recruit Gerrale Gates had 13 and Raquan Brown added 12.
No. 9 Olympic 60, Pinecrest 42: Jalen Barr had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Josh Banks had 14 points and Darrion Parks 12 for Olympic in the win. The Trojans busted open the game with a 21-9 spurt in the third quarter.
By The Numbers
200: Lincoln Charter coach Bradley Gabriel won his 200th game in a 96-72 win over Union Academy.
22: East Lincoln’s Coleson Leach had 22 points and four assists in a 72-60 win over Valdese Draughn. Juniors Sidney Dollar (18 points, 11 rebounds) and John Bean (13 points, seven assists) had good games for the Mustangs (24-5).
51: Points from Walkertown sophomore Jalen Cone in a 83-81 loss to No. 5 Marshville Forest Hills. Forest Hills (26-2) got 25 points from Jaleen McLaughlin, 22 from Nas Tyson, 16 from Jai Rorie and 15 points, 11 rebounds from Trey Belin.
6: Six Salisbury players hit double figures in a 96-60 win over East Rutherford: Isacc Baker (25 points), Jahbreal Russell (13), Oshaun Robinson (11), Cam Gill (10), Bill Fisher (10) and Xavier Kesler (10).