Published: 12:00 AM, Sat Feb 18, 2012
Pine Forest wins Mid-South 4-A tournament title, beating Seventy-First, 71-44
If coaches dream about having their teams peaking when playoff time arrives, Pine Forest's David May had some really good ones Friday night.
May's Trojans broke open the game in the second quarter in the Mid-South 4-A Conference tournament finals against Seventy-First and coasted to a 71-44 win over the Falcons in the Pine Forest gym.
The win improved the Trojans to 25-1 and gave them a sweep of the Mid-South Conference regular-season and tournament titles. It was also May's 199th career win as he prepares his team to enter the sectional playoffs Monday.
The Trojans will be at home against an opponent to be announced today when the N.C. High School Athletic association releases this year's pairings. For the first time, the basketball teams will be seeded like football, so as a conference champion with only one loss, Pine Forest stands to get one of the top seeds in the field.
The Trojans played like a champion Friday, led by tournament Most Valuable Player Alex Bradley and the play of E.J. Williams. Bradley scored 13 points and dished out numerous assists while Williams had one of his best offensive games of the season, scoring 21 points.
"Alex has had a solid career,'' May said. "He's one of the better players to come out of Pine Forest. He got everybody involved tonight.''
"We knew we could play hard like this, and we knew if we played hard nobody could hang with us,'' Bradley said. He felt the Trojans played harder on defense Friday that they did the last time they edged Seventy-First in double overtime at the Falcon gym.
"The whole crowd gives us a boost everytime we play here,'' he said. "That helps us out.''
May called Williams and Naquon Smith the unsung heroes of the game against Seventy-First's much bigger front line.
"Naquon really did a great job of staying out of foul trouble, rebounding, playing against the bigger guys and using his quickness,'' May said. "It was one of E.J.'s better games as a Trojan.''
Smith joined Bradley and Williams in double figures with 10 points.
May felt Pine Forest played a solid game defensively. Seventy-First's starting frontcourt of 6-foot-6 Chris Bennett, 6-foot-4 Devonte Thomas and 6-foot-6 Dominic Page scored a combined 12 points against the Trojans.
"Offensively we made the extra pass and knocked shots down, really got second and third chance opportunities and converted,'' he said.
Pine Forest also had a brilliant night at the free-throw line, hitting its first 10 shots in a row and ending 14 of 18.
"We played our very best against a really strong team,'' May said.
If there was a concern in the game for the Trojans it was knee injuries that sent starter Isaac Lyerly and reserve Bryson Hall to the bench. May said he is hopeful both injuries are minor and that he held the two players out for most of the game purely for precautionary reasons.
"Both of them kind of buckled their knees, a little bruise,'' May said. "We'll get them a little treatment over the weekend.''
Unlike some of his peers, May said he likes the new seeding plan for the playoffs. "It gives it more of that NCAA feel,'' he said. "We've all got a decent idea of who we're playing. It changes it up a little.''
May expects his team to be No. 1 in the Mideast pod when the pairings are announced today. Possible first round opponents for the Trojans could be Panther Creek or Terry Sanford, May said.
Seventy-First coach David Simmons said his team has had problems getting off to good starts much of this season. "If you don't get off to a good start, these things can happen,'' he said. "We still tried to have more will, but Pine Forest played like a championship team and they never let up what they were doing. It's hard to come back when you get down 20 at half.''
Simmons said the Falcons will try to regroup for what they expect to be a home playoff game Monday. "For us it's a mental thing,'' he said. "We'll meet for about an hour and a half (today) and go over some mental things.''
Joining Pine Forest's Bradley on the all-tournament team were K.J. McGrew of Jack Britt, Sidney Knox and Thomas of Seventy-First, Treshawn Patterson of South View and Travis McEachern of Pine Forest.
Pine Forest 71, Seventy-First 44
SEVENTY-FIRST- Knox 4, Quincy Swait 15, Francis 5, Vince, Williams 5, Watson, Page 3, Anderson 2, Thomas 7, Bennett 2, Ragland, Goslee, Harvey 1.
PINE FOREST- Washington, McEachern 8, Alex Bradley 13, Corbett 1, Hall 2, Hayes, Ray, E.J. Williams 21, Lyerly 7, Naquon Smith 10, T. Smith 2, A. Williams 5, Jensen 2, Miles.
Fouled out: None
Technical fouls: None
3-point goals: SF - Swait 5. PF - Bradley 3, Lyerly, A. Williams.
Records: Seventy-First 18-8, Pine Forest 25-1.