South Central has finally broken through the 4A regional round to advance to the state championship game. The Falcons downed Millbrook 70-50 after losing in this round to a Wake County team in each of the last two seasons.
Just over a minute in, senior guard Shykeim Phillips kicked off the game with a left-handed drive and layup.
Later in the quarter, a technical foul on Phillip Burwell led to a four point South Central possession. The Falcons led 9-6.
Millbrook responded with a 3-pointer from Adam Carey to tie the game at 9.
A minute later, Burwell of Millbrook picked up his second personal foul but stayed in the game.
The first quarter belonged to Day’Ron Sharpe. The 6’10 UNC commit drained a 3-pointer to give South Central a 16-9 lead with 1:30 left. Sharpe also tallied a couple of blocks and more than a couple of rebounds in the opening frame.
Cydney Williams got a basket to fall while getting fouled. Williams missed the free throw but senior Shy’Quan Jones collected the rebound and laid it back in to take a 20-11 lead.
Junior guard Travon Ward hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give South Central 23-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Sam Hood got Millbrook off to a good start in the second quarter. The junior forward collected a loose ball and dunked it on Millbrook’s first possession.
After a Sharpe tip-in, Collin Lewis hit an open three from the left wing for Millbrook. Lewis then drew a charge on Sharpe almost immediately. The new possession didn’t amount to anything for the Wildcats.
A couple of possessions later, Burwell picked up his third foul and had to sit.
Jahzeer Baker hit two free throws to extend the South Central lead to 30-16 with 4:45 to go in the half.
With 2:22 left in the half, a post move and a finish by Sharpe gave South Central a 33-18 lead. On the next possession, Phillips got a driving layup to give the Falcons a 17-point lead.
Carey stopped the run with a nice cut and finish with under a minute to go.
South Central led 35-20 at halftime.
Day’Ron Sharpe had 14 points, 9 rebounds, and two blocks in the first half.
Sharpe started the second half with the same dominance he showed off in the first. The junior big man powered home a dunk on the first possession of the half.
Burwell was called for his fourth foul with 6:30 left in the third.
Collin Lewis hit a 3-pointer thirty seconds later to cut the South Central lead to 41-23. Lewis got a layup to fall on the next possession and then Isaiah Lewis forced a Falcon turnover.
Back-to-back dunks by South Central gave the Falcons a 48-25 lead with three minutes to go.
Carey continued to be a bright spot for the Wildcats. The junior hit a three from the corner to cut the South Central lead to 50-30 with 1:30 to go before the fourth.
South Central led 52-32 after the third quarter.
Sharpe started the third quarter the same way he started the fourth: with a dunk. Burwell responded on the other end with a three for Millbrook.
The Falcons continued to play very hard throughout the fourth quarter and did not let Millbrook back into contention. South Central jumped on a high percentage of the loose balls despite winning by 20 throughout most of the quarter.
Phillips highlighted the final quarter with three-straight athletic drives and layups in the first couple of minutes.
"To watch the joy that those guys had, that was everything for me," South Central coach Chris Cherry said of his team.
The Falcons ran the clock out in the final minute.
Sharpe finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. Phillips was right behind Sharpe with 21 points.
For Millbrook, Adam Carey and Collin Lewis had 12 points.
"South Central was great tonight, they were awesome. We couldn't stop them on the glass and couldn't speed them up. They just had more fight then us tonight," Millbrook coach Chris Davis said after the game.
Davis was proud of his team's outstanding season. "I'm a very happy person and am blessed to coach these kids."