Loss avenged, Princeton secures final playoff berth
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 18, 2009 1:46 PM
SEVEN SPRINGS -- One game with a playoff spot at stake.
Archrivals Rosewood and Princeton faced that scenario as the Class 1-A Carolina Conference boys' basketball tournament tipped off Tuesday evening at Spring Creek.
T.J. Wilson made sure the Dawgs got the bid.
The junior turned in a career-best 27 points as Princeton toppled Rosewood 57-44 and avenged a three-point loss to the Eagles just five days ago.
"That was certainly the best game T.J. has ever played," said Princeton head coach Jeff Davis. "For him to score like he did, play solid defense and not commit a single turnover was huge."
Rosewood jumped out to a two-point lead after the first quarter on the strength of strong interior play by Jacquez Raynor. The sophomore tallied 10 points and five rebounds in the opening eight minutes.
Princeton answered before the half as David Gurganus found his shooting touch. The talented junior point guard scored on three consecutive possessions and capped a 10-0 run with a driving layup as the second quarter expired.
The Dawgs held an eight-point lead at the intermission.
The teams traded baskets throughout a slow third period until Raynor ignited the crowd with a steal and a one-handed slam dunk as time ran out.
"Jacquez really played well, he made a lot of plays that kept us in it at big times," said Rosewood head coach Daniel Mitchel. "Down the stretch we just couldn't get that one stop or the one big basket that we needed."
Princeton sealed the game with eight free throws in the final three minutes.
Rosewood (6-16 overall) was led by Raynor's 23-point, 11-rebound night. Jonathan Franks added six points. Will Beasley chipped in five points.
Gurganus scored 14 points for the fourth-seeded Dawgs, who improved to 10-15 overall. Andre Nixon added seven points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Princeton faces top-seeded and regular-season co-champion North Johnston today. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at Ayden-Grifton.
"I don't like it at all," said Davis of playing back-to-back nights. "The top seed already has the advantage, playing two nights in a row makes it even tougher. But on the bright side, we got on the court tonight and hopefully we will start strong."
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