Vikings fall shortPublished 7:37pm Saturday, March 10, 2012
CHAPEL HILL — The Vikings were able to shut down Winston-Salem’s star 6-7 forward Greg McClinton but they had no answer for guards RaeKwon Harney and Mike Hughes as the duo combined for 22 points to lift the Phoenix over Plymouth 61-49 in the NCHSAA 1-A state tittle game inside the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday.
Hughes tallied 11 points and 10 rebounds to be named the game’s MVP, while Harney scored 11points and dished out five assists and grabbed four boards to lead No. 1 seed Winston-Salem Prep (31-1, Northwest) to its second state title in four years.
McClinton, who according to ESPN has received offers from several ACC and Big East schools, was held to eight points. Though Plymouth was able to lockdown the Phoenix star it was not able to lock up its first state title in school history as the combo of Harney and Hughes was too much to overcome.
“Like I said before, I’d put my guards up against anybody, and I think that’s what it boiled down to tonight,” Phoenix coach Andre Gould said.
For the third-seeded Vikings (23-5, Four Rivers), what it boiled down to was not having enough firepower in the fourth quarter against a staunch Phoenix defense.
“They were picking our guards up at the top and were very aggressive,” Plymouth coach Marvin Davenport said. “They are a good bunch of young men.”
The trio of Carl McCray, Khalil Sheppard and Adrian Moore fueled Plymouth for most of the evening. McCray scored a game-high 14 points and was named the most outstanding player of the East squad, while Moore came off the bench to tally 11 and Sheppard racked up 10 points, four rebounds and three assists.
The Vikings went into halftime tied at 33 with Winston-Salem, and after falling behind early in the quarter, cut the Phoenix lead to 39-38 after a Moore three was followed by a McCray bucket. Plymouth would end the quarter trailing 47-42.
In the fourth quarter the Phoenix would slowly rise above the Vikings thanks to a tremendous defensive effort and some clutch free throw shooting.
The Phoenix ripped off a 12-5 run in the fourth that was powered by 9-of-11 shooting from the line and took a 59-47 lead at the 1:37 mark after Harney made two free throw attempts.
Overall, Winston-Salem made 28 of its eye-popping 43 free throw attempts while Plymouth connected on six of its 13 foul shots.
While WSP played solid defense, the Vikings didn’t help themselves much late in the game as they were quick to abandon their sets and hoist long jumpers.
“Our shots just weren’t falling and there were a few times that I think we should have worked the ball around a little bit instead of coming down and taking a quick shot,” Davenport said.
Despite the outcome, Davenport said he was proud of his team’s play, not only Saturday, but for the entire season.
“All of our players have played hard from Day 1,” Davenport said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Plymouth 13 20 9 7 - 49
Winston-Salem Prep 17 16 14 14 - 61
Khalil Sheppard 11, Pitt 5, Carl McCray 14, Spruill 6, Holloway 3, Adrian Moore11.
RaeKwon Harney 11, Mike Hughes 11, McClinton 8, Simmons 6, Hicks 2, Kerry Campbell 12, Stevenson 4.