Rollin' to Reynolds: Webb clinches state title berth
Isaiah Hicks has been J.F. Webb’s Superman all season long and he’s been sharing his cape, especially, in the Warriors’ postseason run.
Mitron Terry was the savior in the 3-A Carolina Conference tourney final at Chapel Hill and Stefan Cates led the way Friday night in the Eastern Regional semifinal win over Eastern Alamance.
Hicks took it upon himself Saturday to save the day as Webb clinched the school’s first state championship appearance with a 68-64 win over defending 3-A state champ Rocky Mount.
Hicks, held without a first-half field goal, came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of Webb’s 18 points and swatted away a potential game-tying shot with 12.3 seconds to play.
“We didn’t work this hard just to lose at regionals,” said Hicks. “We want to go the state championship.”
And they will. The Warriors will meet Statesville Saturday at 7:30 p.m. inside N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum. Statesville knocked off Hunter Huss 74-71 in the Western Regional final.
Hicks finished with 22 points on the night, adding nine rebounds and six blocks. He was 10-of-10 from the free throw line. The Warriors shot 87.5 percent at the line as a team to Rocky Mount’s 57.9.
Down 66-64, Rocky Mount’s Mason Hines drove toward the basket on the left baseline and had his shot denied by Hicks, who rejected it emphatically with one hand.
Webb’s Tyrek Beverly then bounced the ball off of a Rocky Mount player to give the Warriors possession with 12.3 seconds on the clock.
Stefan Cates sealed the game at the free throw line.
“Just really proud of this team and how hard they fought, how hard they never looked at the scoreboard and how well they compete,” said Webb coach Leo Brunelli. “This is a special group of young men. Just really proud.”
Brunelli fought back tears when asked of the win’s significance to the school and to Oxford, noting the purple “Team Meghan” warm-up T-shirts his Warriors wore into the post-game press conference.
Webb wears the shirts to honor Oxford’s Meghan Bunn, an 11-year-old battling brain cancer.
Bunn’s favorite Warrior, Hicks, scored each of his eight first-half points at the line and Webb, once again, had to overcome a slow start.
The Gryphons led 21-11 after the first quarter and 35-31 at halftime.
“Our whole thing was Isaiah is going to get his,” said Rocky Mount coach Michael Gainey. “Great ballplayer. Not worrying about him. Let him get his. McDonald’s All-American for a reason. Our thing was to try to slow the other guys down.”
Hicks didn’t net his first field goal until 1:37 to play in the third.
But Webb’s superhero had a sidekick to pick up the slack.
Devonte Williams nailed consecutive 3-pointers midway through the third period to give Webb a 43-40 lead. He finished with 18 points, shooting 4-of-10 from long range.
“He saw that red line and thought he got four,” Brunelli said of Crown Coliseum's NBA 3-point line. “And I explained to him yesterday, ‘Son, we can only get three no matter how deep you are.’”
Hicks picked up his third foul with 3:10 to play in the second quarter and sat the remainder of the half as his teammates outscored Rocky Mount 7-4.
Mitron Terry and Tyrek Beverly each finished with four fouls.
“I told them I don’t want them to stop playing,” said Brunelli. “I just think we have to play a little smarter.
Rocky Mount’s 6-foot-5 junior big man, Dante Battle, had a game-high 27 points. Michael Gainey, Jr. added 19.
The Gryphons have won two of the last three 3-A state titles and made four consecutive regional appearances.
“They’re probably one of the best, well-coached, fundamentally disciplined teams we’ve played all season,” Brunelli said. “Look at the run they’ve been on. They brought our level up another level.”
Hicks was named the regional’s most outstanding player and was joined on the all-regional team by Williams.
WEBB — Tyrek Beverly 8, Isaiah Hicks 22, Mitron Terry 9, Devonte Williams 18, Stefan Cates 8, Tyler Thomas 2, Bryan Smith 1
ROCKY MOUNT — Mason Hines 2, Michael Hines 4, Immanuel King 4, Michael Gainey, Jr. 19, Dante Battle 27, Broderick Caudle 6, Ahmad Harrel 2
Eastern Regional boys finals
4-A: Broughton 67, Fayetteville Seventy-First 59
2-A: Kinston 68, Fairmont 51
1-A: Rocky Mount Prep 77, East Carteret 55
Eastern Regional girls finals
4-A: Millbrook 58, Southeast Raleigh 39
3-A: Chapel Hill 59, West Craven 51
2-A: Kinston 56, Jordan-Matthews 37
1-A: River Mill Academy 55, Lejeune 38
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