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SC ready to right regional wrong

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South Central's Jahzeer Baker (4) attempts the layup against Garner's Trayvon Ferrell (21) and Kenyon Burt (22) during their fourth-round state playoff game on Feb. 27.


The Daily Reflector

Saturday, March 3, 2018

South Central’s obvious objective in today’s 4-A East Regional final against Heritage is to earn a spot in next weekend’s state championship game.

But when the fourth-seeded Falcons (27-0) meet the No. 3 seed Huskies (24-4) in today’s 2 p.m. tilt in Minges Coliseum, it will also be a chance for them to exorcise the demon that ended SC’s season a year ago.

Coach Chris Cherry’s club returns to the round today where it saw a chance at a state championship slip through its fingers last year, ripped away in a controversial 44-43 loss to Leesville Road in Fayetteville. As much as today’s game is about the chance to win a title this year, Cherry admitted this week it was impossible to think his players have forgotten what happened the last time they were here.

“Of course, I think from the kids’ standpoint, they remember the pain of last year and don’t want to feel that again,” he said. “Hopefully, we won’t, but at the same time, just from an experience standpoint, that game was really tight last year for 32 minutes so they got to feel the pressure of that type of environment and with those types of stakes on the line. I think our experience will play a factor in a positive way for us.”

The Falcons got a taste of another tight contest in Tuesday night’s fourth-round win at No. 1 Garner. SC trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter before rallying to win 69-67, its first win all year by single digits. Forward Day’ron Sharpe had 25 points to help South Central advance.

Awaiting them in Minges Coliseum today is a Heritage team headlined by a player who will soon be pretty familiar with East Carolina’s arena. Six-foot-8 senior forward and ECU signee Jayden Gardner averages a double-double as Heritage’s leading scorer (24.2 points, 14.1 rebounds).

The Huskies, who average 72.5 points per game, also boast an ACC talent in senior guard and Virginia Tech signee Jarren McAllister (17.5 point, 5.7 rebounds per game).

“They’re two high-quality athletes and the team is really built around them,” Cherry said. “They do a good job of playing the game inside out, driving the basketball and they’re very well-coached and disciplined in their schemes. We’re going to have to have our antennas up, be focused and ready to go.”

Junior guard Shykeim Phillips leads South Central at an average of 17.1 points per game, followed by Sharpe (14.1 points, 8.9 rebounds) and Tahj Riddick (10.3). The Falcons average 77.1 points per game as a team.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.