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Allen leads New Hanover past Middle Creek

New Hanover's Trevon Brown dribbles past Middle Creek's Rashawn King during the second round of the boys state basketball tournament Wednesday. (Photo by Paul Stephen)

Kadeem Allen scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half as New Hanover fought past Middle Creek for a 62-49 win in the second round of the NCHSAA basketball playoffs.

Middle Creek (19-10) took the game to New Hanover (26-1) early. A physical zone defense stymied the Wildcats' fast-break game, and the shooting of Marvin Wilson, who scored 13 points in the first half, gave Middle Creek a one-point lead at the break.

"We knew he could shoot it," New Hanover coach Kurt Angel said. "We didn't know he could shoot it like that."

New Hanover adjusted in the second half. Allen and Daquan Barnes took turns covering Wilson for the rest of the game. Both Wilson and Middle Creek's offense sputtered. Wilson, who scored a game-high 20 points, had just seven points in the second half.

Angel said New Hanover adjusted at halftime to take Wilson out of his rhythm. "And Daquan and Kadeem did a heck of a job," Angel said.

Offensively, New Hanover was tentative in the first half and would have trailed by more than one if not for senior Thomas Johnson, who scored 10 of his 18 points in the first two quarters.

"We told the kids at halftime, ‘Some of you are acting scared right now,' " Angel said. " ‘Don't let anybody come into your house and punk you like that.' And they made that adjustment."

Allen took those words to heart. The senior guard opened the second half with a high-rising alley-oop and constantly attacked the Middle Creek's defense.

In the third quarter, Allen scored six straight points to put New Hanover in front. In the fourth quarter, he shot six of seven from the free throw line to seal the game.

"He's our spark in transition," Angel said of Allen. "And he runs elbow to elbow in a straight line better than anybody else we've had except Rakeem Wilson."

Allen added a game-high 15 rebounds along with five assists. Twice in the fourth quarter, Allen set up Trevon Brown for critical 3-pointers.

With the win, New Hanover moves on to host Clayton on Friday night. The Wildcats are one win away from a third straight regional berth.

"Tonight was tough," Johnson said. "And the opponents are just going to keep getting tougher and tougher."

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