WILMINGTON – The high school basketball regular season finale took place on Thursday night and an odd twist during the final week of the schedule provided some drama as it relates to this year’s conference winner.
Earlier this week, the New Hanover boys forfeited their contest from Tuesday creating a three-way tie between the Wildcats, Ashley and Hoggard as co-champions of the Mideastern Conference.
New Hanover took care of business in its final game of the regular season following an impressive 82-53 victory against Ashley. The win was the Wildcats sixth in a row, giving the black and orange what would have been the outright league title. But, with 25 games played during the 2016-17 slate, a violation of a North Carolina High School Athletic Association rule made New Hanover vacate its 25th game of the season, which was the win over Ashley. The NCHSAA allows for teams to play a maximum 23 games plus one endowment game during the course of the season.
Do the math. With the Wildcats result and a 20-5 overall record, New Hanover was one of 14 teams in the state to exceed the number of contests allowed by NCHSAA. It forced the Wildcats to forfeit their final game of the season, which dropped New Hanover’s league record to 9-3, allowing Ashley Hoggard, and West Brunswick a chance to earn a share of the division crown with a win on Thursday night.
The silvering lining for the Wildcats is the fact Coach Kirk Angel and his squad is playing some of their best basketball of the season right now.
New Hanover (9-3, 19-5) has earned a bid to the 4A state playoffs, but because of Ashley’s 65-64 comeback win on Thursday, the Screaming Eagles will be the one-seed in next week’s Mideastern Conference Tournament at Brunswick Community College.
Ashley defeated New Hanover in their first meeting of the year and received a victory from the Tuesday night contest as a result of New Hanover’s forfeit, giving them the tie breaker. New Hanover falls to a No. 3 seed.
Hoggard 50 Laney 26
Hoggard grabbed a double digit lead before the break on Thursday as the Vikings picked up a regular season sweep over Laney following a 50-26 victory.
With a 10-5 advantage after the opening stanza, Chris Toudle keyed a 9-0 run to grab a 19-5 cushion during the opening minutes of the second period. Toudle scored seven points during the push. Hoggard outscored the Bucs 18-7 during the frame. Tyler Steinman and Keon Bradley combined to go 7-for-7 from the free throw line during the decisive first half push.
The Vikings never trailed in the game. Robert Wilkerson knocked down two treys in the result and led all scorers with 10 points. Toudle finished with nine and Steinman added eight.
Hoggard finished the regular season 17-7 overall and 9-3 in the division to grab a share of the Mideastern Conference Championship. The Vikings will have a two-seed in next week conference tournament.
Ashley 65 West Brunswick 64
Down by seven midway through the fourth quarter the Ashley Screaming Eagles stormed back and used a last second put back by Daitreon Daye to pull out a 65-64 triumph against West Brunswick.
With the win, Ashley clinched the programs first ever conference crown albeit as a co-champion alongside New Hanover and Hoggard. The Screaming Eagles finished the regular season with a 9-3 mark in the division, improving to 15-8 overall.
Daye scored nine of his 15 points in the decisive final frame. He shared team-high honors with Altavon Mack and Bryston Davis. Davis knocked down three trifectas in the winning effort. The Screaming Eagles knocked down seven treys as a team.
The Trojans took a 13-12 edge after the first quarter when Brandyn Parker beat the buzzer with a three-point basket to close the opening period. Ashley battled back to take a three-point edge at halftime and the see saw battle continued after the break. The Trojans scored 21 points during the third period for 48-45 advantage moving into the final frame. Bryce Ahrens knocked down a game-high 19 points, including four three-pointers.
West Brunswick will have the four seed in the league tournament after an 8-4 division mark, 16-7 on the year.
W. Brunswick 13-14-21-16=64
First-round Mideastern Conference Tournament schedule (Tuesday, Feb. 14)
No. 1 Ashley (first-round bye)
No. 2 Hoggard vs. No. 7 Topsail at 4:30 p.m.
No. 3 New Hanover vs. No. 6 Laney at 6p.m.
No. 4 West Brunswick vs. No. 5 South Brunswick at 7:30p.m.
Hoggard 56 Laney 32
The Lady Vikings clinched its third straight 20-win season under Coach Boubacar Aw after a dominating 56-32 victory on Thursday against Laney. Hoggard closed its conference schedule with a 10-2 mark, improving to 20-4 overall.
Lola Lovitt scored a team-high 12 points in the win. The Vikings were up 21-14 after the opening period and extended its cushion to 39-20 at the break. Tara Poteat added five points and dished five assists, while Blair Barefoot and Alani Fisher chipped in eight points apiece.
North Brunswick 58 East Duplin 40
Taylor Perkins and Jada Bellamy scored 17 points apiece to lead North Brunswick past East Duplin, 58-40, to clinch a perfect season inside the East Central Conference. The Scorpions finished the regular season 20-2 overall and 10-0 in league play.
Bellamy had 12 points in the first half as North Brunswick grabbed a 33-17 lead at the break. Perkins finished with two field goals from beyond the arc, while Unique Hines put three Scorpions in double figures with 11 points.
West Brunswick 49 Ashley 37
Topsail 42 South Brunswick 28