Spring Creek, Rosewood boys advance to semifinals
By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on February 15, 2006 2:25 PM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Spring Creek center Desmund Raeford will need to wait another year before he can be called the "big man on campus."
That's because the 6-foot, 230-pounder is still in eighth grade and attends classes in the middle school wing of the Spring Creek middle and upper school complex.
And in his Tuesday night matchup against North Duplin's 6-foot-3, 300-pound Brian McDuffie, he certainly wasn't the bigger man. But with 16 points to McDuffy's six, he was indeed the better man.
Raeford's inside moves were just one element of Spring Creek's jaw-dropping 26-point first quarter output in a 78-62 rout of the Rebels in the second quarterfinal game of the Class 1-A Carolina Conference boys basketball tournament.
In the night's opener, Rosewood came back from a 15-point deficit to defeat Princeton 56-51.
In the 26-6 first quarter, the big middle-schooler scored nine points. Dalreese Bell got nine more, while guards Josh Wright and Cliff Wilson collected their share of assists.
Raeford wasn't intimidated by the beefy McDuffy because he had some success in two regular-season games against North Duplin.
"Actually, the first two times, he didn't even start and I did pretty good," Raeford said. "This time, I did even better."
As an eighth-grader, Raeford's self-confidence is endearing, but it once grated on his teammates.
"He's learning what shots to take," Spring Creek coach Sonny Kilpatrick said. "In the beginning of the year, everything he touched, he took to the hole, and he tried to force a lot of shots."
Now he knows when to get creative on offense.
"(With a big guy) I can get him up top and drive on him," Raeford said. "I can move kind of fast for my size."
Raeford did just that when he swooped through the lane for a lay-up with 1:05 to go in the first quarter, was fouled, and completed a 3-point play to give the Gators a 22-4 lead.
Bell (14 points) scored half his points in the game's first three minutes, and North Duplin didn't get its sixth point until McDuffy made a shot at the buzzer.
After the game, Wilson was basking in the memory of his team's first quarter.
"We just couldn't miss, and we played our best defense of the year," he said.
From that point on, North Duplin played well, outscoring Spring Creek 57-52 -- even cutting the Spring Creek lead to 10 points in the third quarter -- but Wilson (16 points, three 3-pointers) and his teammates did enough to keep the advantage in double-digits.
In the closing stretch of the season, the Gators have bonded, Kilpatrick said.
"They care about each other and they want each other to score. They're playing team basketball," he said. "For one stretch there, everybody was interested in 'what I get,' and now they're interested in 'what we get.'"
Spring Creek will face North Johnston in the semifinals, a team it beat at home 73-64 in overtime last week.
Raeford will have his hands full once more, as he'll be looking up to 6-foot-7 center Willie Smith.
Eleven minutes doesn't seem like enough time to erase a 15-point deficit. But that's all the time Rosewood needed to come back from a 29-14 deficit early in the third quarter of the quarterfinal round opener.
Hustle plays -- a dive for a loose ball, a steal at midcourt and a leap over the baseline to prevent a turnover -- by Holt Rains, Clarence Toran and Kyle Bunn brought Rosewood back to five points (34-29) heading into the final eight minutes.
This wasn't the first time that Toran -- who scored all of his 12 points in the second half -- and his teammates have faced a large deficit late in the game.
"Sometimes we can't really find what we need to come back," he said. "But I guess it was just that passion for the game that let us come out on top. We didn't want this to be our last game."
The Eagles chipped away at the Princeton lead, but they needed two 3-pointers from Rains -- one that came as the horn sounded to end the third quarter -- to close the gap all the way.
Rosewood coach Daniel Mitchell said he pleaded with Rains to cut back on his long-range attempts earlier this year.
"We needed him around the basket this year, so we talked about being more selective," Mitchell said. "But he hit a couple big shots from three tonight."
The Bulldogs were still ahead by seven with 4:35 to play after Josh Barefoot hit two free throws to make it 44-37. But Rains answered with his second 3-pointer on the ensuing Rosewood possession to make it 44-40. As the ball was in the air, a Princeton player was called for pushing underneath, which gave the ball back Rosewood. Brantley Ellis connected on a 17-footer off the inbounds play to cut the Princeton lead to 44-42.
The five-point swing was part of an 11-0 Rosewood run over a two-minute span that gave the Eagles a 48-44 advantage with two minutes to play.
Toran's final basket of the night -- a driving layup with one minute left -- gave Rosewood a 50-46 lead and forced Princeton to foul.
The Eagles made six of their final eight free throws to seal the game.
Mitchell said the Eagles seemed nonchalant during warm-ups -- which he hopes doesn't happen on Thursday, when Rosewood will face regular-season conference champion Ayden-Grifton at Mount Olive College.
It will be the Eagles' first trip to the conference tournament semifinals since 1997.
2006 Class 1-A
Men's Basketball Tournament
(at Spring Creek HS, Seven Springs)
Quarterfinal No. 1
Rosewood 8 4 17 27 -- 56
Princeton 7 15 12 17 -- 51
Brantley Ellis 4 0 3-4 11, Kyle Bunn 5 0 3-3 13, Clarence Toran 6 0 0-2 12, Dennis Jones 3 0 0-1 6, Holt Rains 4 2 0-0 14. TOTALS -- 22 2 6-10 56.
Patrick Bush 2 1 0-3 7, Ryan Daughtry 4 0 3-6 11, Adam Nethercutt 1 0 0-0 2, Will Gainey 0 2 0-0 6, Travis Harper 1 1 0-1 5, Josh Barefoot 3 0 2-2 8, Michael Radford 1 1 1-2 6, Taylor Lane 3 0 0-2 6. TOTALS -- 15 5 6-16 51.
3-point goals -- Princeton 5 (Gainey 2, Bush, Harper, Radford), Rosewood 2 (Rains 2). Total Fouls -- Princeton 15, Rosewood 12. Turnovers -- Rosewood 11, Princeton 10. Fouled out -- None. Technicals -- None.
Quarterfinal No. 2
North Duplin 6 18 19 19 -- 62
Spring Creek 26 14 20 18 -- 78
SPRING CREEK (12-13)
Cliff Wilson 2 3 3-4 16, Daniel Chewning 4 0 6-8 14, Maurice Langston 1 0 0-0 2, Dalresse Bell 5 1 1-1 14, Josh Wright 5 0 2-2 12, David Harris 0 0 2-2 2, Cody Rose 1 0 0-0 2, Desmund Raeford 7 0 2-3 16. TOTALS -- 25 4 16-20 78.
NORTH DUPLIN (1-16)
Terrel Midgyette 2 1 0-0 7, Ryan Killette 5 0 0-0 10 Montreal Garner 1 0 2-4 4, Doug Lloyd 7 0 0-3 14, Chris Graham 3 1 7-9 16, Daniel Cates 1 0 0-0 2, Brandon Smith 0 1 0-0 3, Brian McDuffy 3 0 0-0 6. TOTALS -- 22 3 9-16 62.
3-point goals -- Spring Creek 4 (Wilson 3, Bell), North Duplin 3 (Midgyette, Graham, Smith). Total Fouls-- North Duplin 18, Spring Creek 15. Turnovers -- North Duplin 14, Spring Creek 11. Fouled out -- None. Technicals -- None.
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