As the old cliche goes, it's tough beating a team twice in one season. It's nearly impossible to beat them three times. Well, the Ashe County High men's basketball team felt the affects of that scenario Friday night in Moravian Falls. Wilkes Central, which had lost twice to
Ashe County this season (most recently on January 13), rallied to beat the Huskies 54-51 in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Conference championship game at the Nest at Wilkes Central High School, which hosted the tournament. Will Cornette's three pointer with 90 seconds left in regulation time snapped a 49-49 tie and put the Eagles (22-3) on top to stay. A bucket by Zeb Richardson on Ashe County's (24-3) next possession made it 52-51, but the Eagles iced it away on a pair of free throws by Armin Omanovic with 19 seconds left. Omanovic, who led the Eagles with 24 points, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Richardson led the Huskies with 23 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots in the loss. Sam Gammons finished with nine points; Nehemiah Stafford had eight points, six boards and five assists. The loss also snapped Ashe County's ten-game winning streak. Richardson was also named the Player of the Year in the MVC. He becomes the third Ashe County player to win the award in the last four years. Tommy Spagnolo won the award in 2009; Grayson Wells won it in 2010. Marc Payne of the Huskies was named the Coach of the Year----the 17th time he has won Coach of the Year honors in his 37-year career. He won MVC Coach of the Year honors in 2010.
Unfortunately, a great championship game that featured a standing-room only crowd of more than 1,300 people, was blemished by a robbery after the game. The Huskies were apparantly robbed while playing in Friday's title game. Wilkes County Deputy Sheriffs filed a report for missing items that were taken from the Ashe County locker room.
Gammons, Richardson, and Andrew Lopp were named to the All-MVC team; Eli Gamble and Stafford were named honorable mention. Gammons and Richardson were named to the all-tournament team. On the women's side, MacKenzie Johnson of the Huskies was named All-MVC. Hannah Shipp and Paige Spell were named honorable mention. Wilkes Central won the women's championship by knocking off East Wilkes, 76-36.
WILKES CENTRAL 54, ASHE COUNTY 51
SCORE BY PERIODS 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
Wilkes Central..... 13 19 10 12 54
Ashe County........ 17 16 12 6 51
WILKES CENTRAL: CORNETTE 5, LINDON 4, OMANOVIC 24, SHOEMAKER 10, TRIPLETT 11.
ASHE COUNTY: RICHARDSON 23 (12 REBOUNDS, 8 BLOCKED SHOTS), GAMMONS 9, STAFFORD 8 (6 REBOUNDS, 5 ASSISTS), LOPP 4, MOORE 4, GAMBILL 3.
HICKORY SWEEPS NW3A/4A TITLES
The Hickory High men's and women's basketball teams captured their third consecutive Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament titles at Craft Gymnasium Friday night in Hickory.
Aja Hoyle's driving layup with two seconds left to play handed Hickory a 37-35 win over South Caldwell in the women's championship game. Following the game, Hickory (25-1) coach Barbara Helms and South Caldwell coach Jeff Parham got into a brief shouting match. Hoyle was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. The loss also snapped South Caldwell's (16-10) five-game winning streak.
Hoyle was Hickory's only player to score in double figures. She finished with 11 points. Toni Younce led the Spartans with 11 points.
In the men's game, Hickory staved off Alexander Central's second-half charge and defeated the Cougars 61-50 in the men's finals. Raheim Connelly and Jalen Byrd each scored 17 points in the second half to hold off the Cougars. Connelly finished with a 19 points. Byrd had 24. Alek Ayer led the Cougars with 11 points. It's the third time in four tries that the Red Tornadoes (23-3) have beaten Alexander Central this season. The first three games between the teams were decided by last second shots. The Cougars defeated Hickory on Nathan Birkedal's three ball at the horn in Taylorsville on January 27. Alexander Central and Hickory shared the regular-season championship in the NW3A/4A.