Vi-Kings of the CrownPublished 10:06pm Saturday, March 3, 2012
FAYETTEVILE — Heading into the NCHSAA 1-A East Regional finals with leading scorer Carl McCray suffering from a gimpy ankle, many thought the Vikings didn’t have a leg to stand on against a highly-touted Rocky Mount Prep squad.
However, McCray would put aside the pain and rise to the occasion as the tournament MVP erupted for a game-high 33 points to lead a fierce second-half surge that carried Plymouth past the Jaguars, 86-78, and into next Saturday’s state title game at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill.
“He was determined,” Plymouth coach Marvin Davenport said of McCray. “There was no way he was going to let us play this game without him.”
The third-seeded Vikings (23-4) got off to a slow start as the fourth-seeded Jaguars jumped out to a 34-29 halftime lead thanks to strong performances from Donte Samuels (21 points), Gary Smith (17) and Jacob Barrett (20).
During intermission, Plymouth coach Marvin Davenport rallied the troops inside the home team locker room of the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville and when the Vikes remerged for the second half a different team came out of the tunnel.
“At halftime I told our kids we weren’t playing sound defense,” Davenport said. “I said to them, ‘Hey, the second half is our half.’”
Davenport wasn’t lying as the Plymouth came out firing over the next two quarters as it scored 28 points in the third and 29 in the fourth en route to becoming Vi-Kings of the Crown Coliseum.
“They just put it together and started playing hard,” Davenport said. “They started attacking the basket and looking for one another.”
For the second night in a row sophomore super sub Adrian Moore, who actually started the game in place of McCray due to that ankle injury, had a tremendous night as he tallied 21 points and five steals. Aside from hitting big buckets, Moore’s enthusiasm for the game was infectious as he not only fired up his teammates but the large hometown crowd that took the two-plus hour trip to the Crown.
“Adrian has been getting better from Day 1,” Davenport said. “Every time he gets on the floor he plays his heart out.”
The Vikings would take their first lead of the second half when Devonte Spruill drilled a three to make it 41-39 midway through the third and closed out the quarter with a 57-51 lead after a Sean Holloway triple.
In the fourth, despite a furious rally by Rocky Mount, Plymouth never surrendered the lead.
With the win, the Viking will play their final game of the season next Saturday in the 1-A state title game at the Dean E. Smith Center.
Rocky Mount Prep 20 14 17 27 - 78
Plymouth 13 16 28 28 29 - 86
Donte Samuels 21, Coppege 8, Gary Smith 17, James Bonds 12, Jacob Barrett 20.
Khalil Sheppard 11, Pitt 4, Adrian Moore 21, Spruill 7, Holloway 8, Carl McCray 33, Lesesne 2.