For the second straight season, Wayne Country Day won the Coastal Plains Independent Conference tournament.
In a thrilling game, the Chargers defeated archrival Greenfield 94-79 on Friday evening. During the game, Mike Best reached the 1,000-point mark for his career.
“Greenfield is so tough, and they made shots, and we took some punches, but I like that we did because we responded,” Wayne Country Day head coach Nathan Faulk said. “We responded in a big way, and we’ve done that a few times this year, but it feels really special to do that in a championship game.
“I’m proud of our guys’ effort and toughness, and that’s something we’ve been preaching to them down the stretch, and we showed that in this game.”
With the score tied 18-18, Carlos Raven drained a three-pointer to give Wayne Country Day a 21-18 at the end of the first quarter,
But the Knights battled back in the second quarter. As a team, Greenfield hit five three-pointers in the second quarter, and the Knights led 42-36 at halftime.
Best nailed a three-pointer of his own to open the third quarter, and baskets from Jordan Cooper and Dre Ervin enabled the Chargers to take a 43-42 lead.
However, Greenfield responded with a 9-4 run to take back the lead. Now trailing 54-47, Jaden Cooper took over the game.
Jaden Cooper scored 16 of his 25 points in the third quarter, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer from near halfcourt, but Wayne Country Day still trailed 67-65 at the end of the third quarter.
“There was a stretch in the third quarter where I felt Jaden just hit some great shots,” Faulk said. “I thought Greenfield was going to stretch it out, and Jaden wouldn’t let it happen, so the shots he made were huge for us, but it was a team effort.
“The team did a great job.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, Best hit another three-pointer to cut Greenfield’s lead down to 75-74, and Jordan Cooper sunk a free throw to tie the game 75-75.
And three baskets from Ervin and one from Jaden Cooper put the Chargers back on top for good with two minutes left in the game.
Down 83-75, Greenfield attempted to answer the Chargers 8-0 run, but it was too little too late, and the Chargers held off the Knights to get the win.
After the game, Jaden Cooper, Best and Ervin were named to the CPIC all-tournament team. Ervin was also named the MVP for the tournament.
“The guys got some big-time stops, and hit their free throws, and just made enough shots,” Faulk said. “It just swung in our favor, and Greenfield is so tough, and beating them three times is tough.”
Ervin finished the game with a team-high 26 points and 16 rebounds. Jaden Cooper finished the game with a triple-double. He scored 25 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and dished out 12 assists.
Best added 18 points and seven rebounds, while Vante Hutcherson contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Wayne Country Day (21-2 overall) will now get ready for the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A playoffs, which start on Tuesday.
The Chargers reached the state championship the last two seasons but were unable to win the championship, but Faulk hopes the third time is the charm for the Chargers.
“We’ve had two appearances in the state championship and come up short, so you know where the guys want to go and the goal that we have,” Faulk said. “I know they’re poised and ready for that, and they’re focused, so I’m excited for next week.”