Hurricanes finish with a win


Cape Fear Academy's Justin Aldrich (left) competes for a loose ball with Topsail's Blake Nelson during the final day of the Cape Fear Academy Holiday Basketball Challenge on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (Photo by Matt Born)


The Cape Fear Academy boys' basketball team capped the school's second annual Holiday Challenge on a high note, defeating Topsail 38-22 in the tournament's final game.

In a defensive struggle, the Hurricanes (8-2) used 10 Topsail turnovers to their advantage on their way to ending the three-day tournament with a 2-1 record. A day after hitting seven three-pointers on the way to a game-high 23 points in a 53-38 loss to West Brunswick on Friday, Evan Head once again led all scorers with 14 points to go along with four steals.

After averaging 19 points per game during the tournament, Head has become the go-to scorer for the Hurricanes.

"He controls the game," Cape Fear Academy coach Loren Baysden said. "Honestly, for as good as he is, it's a real testament to how the other players are unselfish. They accept that. They build our team around that. They know their roles as well, and that's what makes us a team that's capable of winning games."

Even in the team's loss to the Trojans, Baysden found positives for his squad to carry over as they prepare for their conference schedule.

"It was a tough game, but I was actually really proud of them," Baysden said. "We saw something for the first time, which is a high-pressure defense by West (Brunswick), and it's something we have to work on. For us to see that before conference play is great, and we'll get better at it."

Topsail (1-11), meanwhile, ended the tournament with a 1-2 record, continuing a frustrating season. After jumping out to a 4-0 lead just 1:30 into their game against Cape Fear Academy, the Pirates were held scoreless for the next 12:12 until Connor Dillon's layup cut the Hurricanes' lead to 14-6 with 2:18 left in the half.

Jake Sullivan led the Pirates with seven points and five rebounds as his team shot a dismal 8-for-35 from the field.

Topsail's loss was not only a result of poor shooting, however, as the Hurricanes were able to settle down and continue their hot streak into the new year.

"We have a great character team," Baysden said. "They love playing together, so just getting back to the basics was great. We knew Topsail was well-coached and that they would put up a fight. We were a little slow with intensity early on, but it's something we showed some resilience about. Three games in a row isn't always easy, but they ended up playing harder through every game, which is a great sign."

WEST BRUNSWICK 70, COASTAL CHRISTIAN 18

The West Brunswick boys' basketball team overpowered Coastal Christian, winning going away.

Junior forward Gray Cheers had a game-high 21 points to lead the Trojans (9-3), which had 10 different players score. The team held a 36-11 halftime advantage and finished with a 3-0 record in the tournament.

Connor Norris led Coastal Christian (5-9) with six points as the Centurions closed the tournament at 1-2.

McLeod Brown

HARRELLS CHRISTIAN 57, SOUTH BRUNSWICK 35

The Cougars stayed close early, but the Crusaders simply had too much firepower in a comfortable victory.

Senior Graham DiPinto had 16 points and sophomore Marcus Scarborough added 11 points for Harrells.

South Brunswick pulled within 19-16 late in the second quarter before Harrells Christian (8-1) closed the half with seven straight points. The Crusaders extended the lead out of the break, pulling away on the strength of several crafty buckets in the post by DiPinto.

Junior forward Malik Douglas was active on both ends for the Cougars and finished with a game-high 17 points.

Eric Detweiler



GIRLS

TOPSAIL 41, CAPE FEAR ACADEMY 33

Cape Fear Academy's girls basketball team's comeback attempt fell short as the Hurricanes dropped their second game in a row, this one to Topsail.

Trailing 24-19 at halftime, the Hurricanes (7-2) used an 11-4 third-quarter advantage to take a two-point lead into the final eight minutes.

The Pirates (5-6) then clamped down on defense, holding Cape Fear Academy to three points in the final quarter while they scored 13.

Sophomore guard Keri White scored 14 of her game-high 16 points in the first half to lead the Pirates.

Tayah Lowery scored 15 to lead the Hurricanes.

McLeod Brown

WEST BRUNSWICK 59, COASTAL CHRISTIAN 51

The Trojans went to the fourth quarter down by 18 points, but junior Leilani Emile saved her best for last. The forward scored 22 of her game-high 30 points during a furious rally that delivered West Brunswick a memorable victory.

West Brunswick (4-7) outscored Coastal Christian 28-2 in the final period, relying on a fullcourt press to stoke the burst.

The comeback took shape quickly. The Trojans trailed 49-31 entering the fourth quarter and grabbed a 52-50 lead on Emile's layup with 2:47 to go. Freshman McKenzie Benton (16 points) had tied it with a three-pointer on the previous possession.

It was West Brunswick's second straight win boosted by a sparkling fourth quarter. The Trojans outscored Cape Fear Academy 24-5 in the final eight minutes on Friday night.

"We were very fortunate to win today, but I felt like we really deserved to win," coach Mark Jones said. "That last quarter we played great again. I wish we could play all our games in the fourth quarter."

Senior Lauren Duncan had 22 points for Coastal Christian (6-7) before fouling out with 6:18 to go.

HARRELLS CHRISTIAN 60, SOUTH BRUNSWICK 46

Senior Daisha Jordan hit for 19 points as the Crusaders surged past the Cougars to finish the tournament unbeaten.

Harrells Christian (7-0) pulled away with a 21-point third quarter for their third double-digit victory in as many days. Freshman Emily Benton (14 points) and senior Anna DeVane (10 points) also made major contributions in a balanced scoring effort.

Freshman Danecia Thomas-Price had 16 points for South Brunswick (1-11), which finished the event 0-3.

Eric Detweiler