In just a few short years, Wayne Preparatory Academy has gone from an upstart program to state champions.
The Generals defeated N.C. Good Better Best Academy 53-35 in the Carolina Athletic Association Schools of Choice state championship game at Oak Ridge Military Academy to win the first state title in school history.
“I’m so happy for these boys. They deserve this. It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Wayne Prep head coach Michael Thomas said. “The boys forget about negative things and try to make it positive. They just keep going.
“Words can’t even describe how happy I am.”
The win is even more impressive considering that Wayne Prep lost to N.C. GBB twice earlier in the season. Thomas said beating N.C. GBB to win the first state title in Wayne Prep history is indescribable.
“We were so fired up for this game. In our minds already, we won, so I told them ‘guys, it’s your mindset’ so when we came in here, we already beat them,” Thomas said. “So, all we had to do was complete it on the court, and they got it done.”
With the score tied 9-9 at the end of the first quarter, Wayne Prep put its foot on the gas pedal in the second quarter.
Tournament MVP Amari Latham scored nine of his 17 points in the second quarter, and the Generals used a 14-6 run to take a 23-15 lead at halftime.
The Generals continued to increase their lead in the third quarter and led 35-21 at the end of the third quarter.
“We were just attacking,” Thomas said. “Most of these kids are very skilled, so all I told them to do was not turn the ball over, rebound and push it. Other than that, they used their talent to win these games.”
N.C. GBB attempted a comeback in the fourth quarter, and with a minute left in the game, the Eagles trimmed Wayne Prep’s lead down to 44-38.
However, the Generals did not waver, and they held off the Eagles to win the first state title in school history.
Jaquan Green finished the game with 16 points, Donte Shuford contributed 10 points, while D’Untae Wright added five points.
Latham, Green, Shuford and Wright were all named to the all-tournament team.
“We have a brand new school being built right now, and it’s lovely to put a nice championship banner coming down,” Thomas said. “I’m just so proud of these boys.”