Wayne Country Day had visions of reaching its third straight state title game, but The Burlington School had other ideas.
The Spartans held off a furious second-half rally and defeated the Chargers for a 79-57 win in the semifinals of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A boys’ basketball playoffs on Wednesday evening.
Vante Hutcherson and Jaden Cooper both scored 15 points to lead Wayne Country Day. Mike Best added 12 points, while Carlos Raven contributed nine points.
It was the final game for seniors Cooper, Hutcherson and Raven.
“What they’ve accomplished and what we’ve done this year during a pandemic. There’s a lot of things you can look back and appreciate,” Wayne Country Day head coach Nathan Faulk said. “Winning the conference championship, going undefeated in the conference, beating Greenfield three times, winning the Christmas tournament, three times to the final four, and going to the state championship game two times, it’s crazy.
“Their legacy is certainly cemented at Wayne Country Day.”
Wayne Country Day (23-3 overall) led for a few moments early in the first quarter.
However, it did not take long for the Spartans to take the lead, Isaiah Escobar scored 14 points, which included three three-pointers, in the first quarter, and The Burlington School led 19-11 at the end of the first quarter.
“We missed some shots early, and they made some shots early,” Faulk said. “Being on the road, in their environment, and in a game of this magnitude, it’s hard to overcome that.”
The Spartans built up a 36-21 lead at halftime, but the Chargers battled back in the second half.
Back-to-back baskets from Cooper and Raven cut The Burlington School’s lead down to 49-42, but the Spartans managed to hold off the Chargers and led 51-43 at the end of the third quarter.
“We settled in, and we just kept chipping away,” Faulk said. We wanted to get it under 10 points going into the fourth quarter, and we did, but foul trouble caught up with us.”
After a basket from Hutcherson, the Chargers trailed 58-51 with five minutes to play.
However, The Burlington School used a 21-6 run to seal the win.