Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Dwight Taylor, the stern defensive taskmaster that he is, will be one of the first to admit it.
Some teams aren’t built for trapping the opposition and forcing them to make errors at an accelerated pace.
But don’t throw Taylor’s 2019-20 Hunt High varsity boys basketball team into that group. In fact, the Warriors thrive on it.
In front of a light crowd to open the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A postseason Tuesday night, Hunt’s intensity on the defensive end caused visiting Charles B. Aycock to process information faster than the Golden Falcons would have liked, and the end result left the Warriors moving into Thursday’s second round with a 69-55 victory.
“I told them that we were going to come out and start trapping and pressing and we were just going to see what happens,” Taylor said. “Every team ain’t a good team to trap and press, but this team, they just feed off of it. So even when we’re not getting steals, we need to get in it to get them active.”
Behind a game-high 25 points from sophomore guard Ty’Chaun Clay, Hunt (17-8), the No. 8 seed in the East region, advanced to another home game Thursday night against Big East Conference foe Rocky Mount. The Gryphons, seeded No. 24, went on the road to Southern Lee and dismissed the No. 9 Cavaliers 80-73, setting up a third meeting in a season series where Hunt won the first two encounters.
The Warriors scored the game’s first six points and never trailed. C.B. Aycock, the No. 25 seed, finished its first winning season since 2012-13 at 15-12.
Hunt opened each half with a flurry defensively and denied the Golden Falcons a chance at the lead before halftime. After CBA’s Mike Williams, a senior, had a putback to pull within a point, Hunt requested timeout with 3:21 left in the second quarter.
From there, the Warriors closed on a 10-2 run, eight of that total coming from Clay. His two 3-pointers and layup, coupled with a layup by senior Shakei Hines, set the Warriors into halftime with a 33-24 lead.
Indeed, Hunt’s defensive focus carried over into the start of the second half. An 11-4 burst, jump started by pressure extended the Warriors to a 44-28 advantage, and CBA crept no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“We have a lot of fast and athletic, long guys,” Clay said. “So when we’re trapping other teams, it’s going to be hard for them to throw it over us, because we’re coming to get it. Our trap ‘D’ scores a lot of fast-break points that we score off of.”
Throw the Falcons into that mix of teams that have experienced issues against these frenetic Warriors.
“They put that pressure on us, and when they’re coming and running at us, they sped us up faster than what we wanted to get,” CBA head coach Dave Elmore said. “It was one of those things where we wanted to slow down and make good passes and see what’s coming first before we just took off with it, but that didn’t happen tonight.”
Hines had 13 points for Hunt, while senior Shaq Wade added 12 as a factor on the offensive backboards. Clay’s dribble penetration on the offensive end supplemented his defense and gave CBA numerous problems.
“Coach Taylor always preached to us in practice to attack the gaps if our shot’s not there,” Clay said. “So that’s what we did, we attacked the gaps and shared the ball with each other. And it led to points.”
CBA, which was paced by senior Charles Walker’s 18 points and four 3-pointers, pulled to within nine for the final time at 51-42 with 6:09 remaining. However, Hunt responded with a 13-2 run to establish its biggest advantage, culminating with a trey from Hines and a layup from Wade following a steal for 64-44 advantage.
Any hope for a miracle CBA comeback was not helped with 87 seconds to play, when the Falcons were assessed a technical foul for having six players on the court.
At the final buzzer, it wasn’t clear if Rocky Mount would be Hunt’s next opponent. But the site was already etched in stone.
“We’ll be here,” Taylor said. “So, we’ll wait.”
C.B. AYCOCK (55)
Mcclarin, Peronzini 4, Reid 6, Moore 9, Walker 18, Poindexter, Lewis, Lane, Reid 6, Williams 12, Jackson.
Clay 25, Wade 12, Keen, Taylor 9, Hines 13, Carmon 1, Hammonds, Horne, Jones 7, Barron, Joyner 2, Hopkins.
Score by quarters:
C.B. Aycock 13 11 15 16 — 55
Hunt 16 17 18 18 — 69