No. 1 Cary 58 No. 5 New Hanover 49 (OT)
With a line of fans outside the gymnasium nearly two hours before tipoff and standing room only inside the Imp Dome, high school basketball fans witnessed a classic comeback on Tuesday night as top-seeded Cary erased a 16-point fourth quarter deficit to hand No. 5 New Hanover a 58-49 heartbreaking setback in overtime to end the Wildcats’ run through the 4A playoffs.
Cory Gensler and Donte Tatum combined for 41 points for the Imps, who improved to 31-1 overall and 16-0 on their home floor. Cary faces No. 2 Garner Magnet in the East Regional Final on Saturday.
Just like the opening three rounds of the state tournament, New Hanover used a big push through the second quarter to grab a 24-16 lead. The Wildcats forced the Imps to settle for outside shots, hitting just one attempt from beyond the arc over the opening 16 minutes of action.
Shaq Hampton asserted himself inside the paint with 10 of his 15 points in the first half, while New Hanover’s intensity on defense kept Tatum and Gensler at bay until the fourth quarter run. Hampton recorded a double-double with 13 rebounds, while Acchaeus Fields went 7 of 16 from the field to finish with 14 points.
Malique Jacobs also added 12 points and eight boards to put three Wildcats in double figures as New Hanover extended their cushion to 34-18 with 4:25 left in third quarter. The black and orange maintained a 41-25 edge headed into the final eight minutes of regulation after Gensler sank his first three-pointer of the game just before the end of the period.
A pair of treys from the Imps cut the advantage to 45-35 midway through the fourth quarter as Cary outscored New Hanover 24-8 during the frame.
With the game tied 49-all, the Imps scored all nine points in the extra stanza to grab the victory. The Wildcats finished the year 24-7 overall.