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South Central on 'national level'

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South Central's Day'Ron Sharpe dunks against Greene Central on Nov. 27.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Coach Chris Cherry wanted to challenge his South Central boys’ basketball team to the fullest extent at the John Wall Holiday Invitational and despite a loss Saturday night, the Falcons left Raleigh still unbeaten this season against in-state competition.

South Central finished second in the TJ Warren Bracket, going 2-1 with wins over Athens Drive and Leesville Road before falling 63-58 to Ranney School from New Jersey on Saturday night in a championship game.

“Our program can compete on a national level,” Cherry wrote in a text message Sunday morning, about his biggest takeaway from the event.

This is Cherry’s 10th season with the Falcons (10-1), who are one of the most proven teams in the state and they have made a habit out of deep state playoff runs. They made it to the 2011 3-A state championship game, falling by one point to Gastonia Huss, and most recently played in the 4-A Eastern Regional final the last two seasons.

But John Wall tourney games bring about their own unique atmosphere, highlighted by sold-out crowds, a plethora of video cameras and college coaches frequently in attendance at Broughton High School.

This was SC’s first time being invited to the event.

“It was a great atmosphere and the tournament lived up to the hype,” Cherry said.

Shykeim Phillips and Day’Ron Sharpe both were on the John Wall Holiday Invitational all-tournament team from the TJ Warren bracket.

Sharpe, a 6-foot-9 junior already verbally committed to North Carolina, was named the most outstanding player. He had 24 points and 20 rebounds against Ranney, two nights after he posted a double-double of 14 points and 21 rebounds versus Leesville Road.

UNC head coach Roy Williams was there Saturday to see Sharpe and the Falcons. The Tar Heels beat Davidson earlier in the day in Chapel Hill.

Phillips was a catalyst in the Falcons’ 65-52 win against Athens Drive, making seven of his 10 shots from the field and scoring 20 points. He remains uncommitted in college recruiting as a senior guard.

Ranney’s lead player, 6-4 guard Bryan Antoine who has signed with Villanova, scored 24 points versus SC. Florida signee Scottie Lewis had 23.

South Central led 29-28 at halftime and 43-41 going into the fourth quarter, but the team from Tinton Falls, N.J., prevailed during the final period.

“I hope our body of work over the last nine years has spoken for itself, but this was our first chance to show it on a national stage,” Cherry said in his postgame news conference. “I couldn’t be more proud of this school and our program and my boys. Our guys followed the game plan ... but hats off to them because they found the ways to win.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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