STATE CHAMPIONS: Webb survives Statesville, 73-70
Isaiah Hicks had the performance of a lifetime for J.F. Webb, but he had to watch the last 19 seconds of the Warriors’ 3-A state championship overtime thriller against Statesville from the sidelines.
Hicks played with four fouls for the final six and a half minutes of regulation and fouled out in overtime with Webb up 71-70 before watching his Warriors (27-5) hang on for a 73-70 win to clinch the first basketball state title in Webb history.
Hicks tallied an astounding 34 points and 30 rebounds. The 30 boards set a new state finals record.
“Wow, what a way to go out, huh? Last time he wears that white uniform for J.F. Webb High School to put on a display like that,” said Webb coach Leo Brunelli. “Goodness gracious, 30 rebounds. Are you kidding me?”
The official stat line listed Hicks with seven blocks, but Hicks and his coach thought he may have got his hands on a few more.
“I think it was more like a triple-double tonight,” said Brunelli.
Statesville trailed by as many as 14 points and was down 46-35 entering the fourth quarter.
The Greyhounds (25-4) charged back, bringing their blue-clad supporters to life in the heavily pro-Webb Reynolds Coliseum.
Statesville trimmed the lead to one point in the final 20 seconds and came up with a steal, but Jaquan Warren couldn’t convert on a slash to the basket.
Webb’s Mitron Terry, who finished with 14 points, sank two free throws to put the Warriors up 3 and Josh Gaither’s desperation heave didn’t draw iron.
“We pictured this. This was our goal as a basketball team this year,” said Brunelli. “There were points when it didn’t look very good. There were points tonight it didn’t look good.”
“This is what we worked for and then I go out with a championship with all my brothers,” added Hicks. “It’s great to be able to share with them.”
The 6-foot-9 Hicks dominated from the onset against a size-challenged Statesville team. Hicks had 13 points and 16 rebounds by halftime.
Hicks exited only briefly after picking up his fourth foul with 7:21 to play in regulation.
“Don’t get fouled out,” said Hicks. “That was going through my mind. How can I help the team without getting fouled out? I just had to play smart. When they drive, just move back and try to block the shot or try to just move out of the way when they drive.”
Breon Borders paced the Greyhounds with 26 points.
A 3-pointer from Jaquan Warren completed the Statesville comeback, giving the Greyhounds a 61-59 lead with 2:06 left.
Statesville shot 5-of-9 from outside in the second half after going just 1-of-10 in the first half.
Hicks, who shot 13-of-21 from the field and 8-of-10 at the line, swatted away a Marquis Willis shot in the lane in the final minute before tying the game at the free throw line with 28.9 seconds left. The North Carolina recruit snatched a Borders shot with two hands on the defensive end and converted a layup, but it didn’t beat the buzzer.
In overtime, Hicks threw down a put-back of a Devonte Williams miss with two hands to tie the game with 1:21 left. Those were Hicks’ final two points before fouling out.
That left the crew of Terry, Williams, Stefan Cates, Tyrek Beverly, and Bryan Smith to prove their worth.
“Everyone thought Webb was only about Isaiah Hicks,” said Brunelli. “I think you found out tonight and the last couple of weekends there’s a pretty good team without Isaiah Hicks. And they like each other and they care for each other. Sometimes that’s all you need to push you through in a close game.”
Webb avoided the slow starts that plagued the team in its last three state playoff wins. Hicks had some early slams to ignite the Warrior faithful and Webb led 19-15 after one quarter. Hicks dominated the opening period, tallying 11 points and six rebounds.
Neither side shot well in the second quarter as the Warriors outscored the Greyhounds 10-5 to take a 29-20 lead into the locker room.
Statesville cut Webb’s lead to two points before the Warriors ended the half on an 8-0 run that included a drive to the basket and score from reserve Tyler Thomas.
Before the game, Webb donned its customary state playoff Team Meghan purple warm-ups, honoring Oxford’s Meghan Bunn, an 11-year-old battling brain cancer. Bunn recently received what her family hopes was her last round of chemo and watched the game behind the Warriors’ bench.
“I’m so proud of our team, of our community and of Team Meghan,” said Brunelli.
Brunelli said the rowdy Webb crowd that filled “The Old Barn” up was what small communities were all about.
STATESVILLE — Justin Daniels 4, Josh Gaither 13, Breon Borders 26, Marquis Willis 10, Jaquan Warren 17
WEBB — Isaiah Hicks 34, Mitron Terry 14, Devonte Williams 7, Stefan Cates 9, Bryan Smith 7, Tyler Thomas 2
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