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With a No. 1, a No. 2 and a No. 3 from maestro Rob Salter, the host Greenfield School varsity boys basketball team was off to the beat of an 87-36 rout of Friendship Christian of Raleigh in the semifinals of the 1-A/2-A Coastal Plains Independent Conference tournament Thursday night.
Junior Colin Guilford, wearing jersey No. 1, opened the scoring with a 3-pointer. Next, junior Jordan Lynch, wearing No. 2, drained a 3-point attempt. After the Falcons scored, junior Jacari Outlaw, wearing No. 3, knocked down a bomb from outside the 3-point arc, and the Knights owned a 9-2 cushion after two minutes.
Top-seeded Greenfield, the regular-season champion and No. 2-ranked among the NCISAA’s 1-A teams by MaxPreps, drilled in 15 points before settling for “just” a two-point field goal, swishing its first three attempts and four of the first five from 3-point land.
“We wanted to put the game away and have no worries,” expressed Outlaw, the Knights’ top scorer with 16 points. “We were moving the ball, looking for each other and hitting our shots. lt’s the tournament and we had to play our hearts out and get ready for the game tomorrow.”
With its 28th win against just four losses, Greenfield, winners of 17 straight, advanced into Friday night’s championship game against the winner of Thursday evening’s other semifinal between Wayne Country Day and Wayne Christian. The Knights of Salter, actually the head coach, are in quest of their third consecutive tournament championship.
No. 5-seeded Friendship, in its first North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association as well as CPIC season, exited with a 12-9 record.
The last 13-plus minutes were played with the clock stopping only for time-outs as the result of Greenfield reaching the 40-point lead plateau on Outlaw’s short jumper for a 64-24 margin with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
“We are really playing good basketball,” Salter assessed. “I am really pleased with how unselfish we are. We hit our first three 3-pointers and, if we shoot like that, we are going to be tough to beat. We were looking for each other and were making the right play.”
The Knights bolted to a 23-4 start before the pair of sophomore Martez Martin and junior Tylan Green attempted to jump-start the Falcons — although to little avail.
Greenfield’s lead reached 20 points for the first time at 41-19 on Lynch’s 3-pointer in the second quarter. The biggest cushion was the final score on 6-foot-5 junior Dji Bailey’s lay-in.
The Knights dominated the rebounding and left the Falcons weary with relentless transtion. Greenfield also shot well and valued the basketball.
“We’ve got depth,” Salter noted. “We don’t lose much when we go to the bench. Our bench has been terrific. We had great balance (six scorers in double figures). We get up and down the court, and that wears teams down. We are not playing as fast as I want, but we are playing at a fast pace.”
Joining Outlaw in double figures were 6-5 junior Trey Pittman, Guilford and Bailey with 12 points each, junior Creighton Lebo with 11 and Lynch with 10.
“I felt confident and comfortable with the ball,” Outlaw evaluated his performance. “I was rebounding and making my shots. It was not my best game but it was a pretty good one.”
Bailey returned from an eight-game absence with a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists.
“It was great to have Dji back,” Salter assured. “You see how well he sees the floor.”
The Falcons of head coach Evan Brondyke were led by Martin with 12 points.
FRIENDSHIP CHRISTIAN (36)
Jones, Martin 12, Huskey 1, Brown 1, Gunter 5, Haufler, Green 7, Croom, Soemer 2, Dean 2, Lucas 6.
Guilford 12, Lebo 11, Pittman 12, Baker 5, Outlaw 16, Bailey 12, Lynch 10, Foster 4,Holland 3, Sessoms 2.
Score by quarters:
Friendship 15 7 9 5 — 36
Greenfield 27 29 15 16 — 87