Erwin-North Buncombe basketball is the gift that keeps on giving to each athletic department’s financial well-being.
The Warriors get to be the beneficiary one more time Saturday.
Colby Maltry scored 24 points and the Erwin boys turned an early 22-2 lead into a comfortable 74-59 win over visiting Asheville High in Friday’s first round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.
Jeremiah Jackson added nine points. Alic Wynn (12 rebounds) and Malik Moore (11) combined for 23 rebounds. Moore also dished out seven assists.
The Warriors (19-7) will be back at home Saturday, and there figures to be a full house for their fourth game of the season with the other Co-Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A regular-season champion, North Buncombe (21-4).
Tip-off is set for 5 p.m., following a 3-A girls game between Erwin and Cuthbertson at 3.
The Erwin and North Buncombe boys have played three previous times this season, including a special tiebreaker game for the MAC’s No. 1 seed in the 3-A playoffs (the Warriors won that game, 79-67, on Feb. 20 at Reynolds).
The two rivals split during the regular season – North Buncombe won, 61-56, on Jan. 15 in Weaverville and then lost at Erwin, 82-67, on Feb. 6. That second game was notable because the Warriors’ gym’s capacity of 1,720 was exceeded, and the fire marshal would not allow fans to continue purchasing tickets.
“We know (North Buncombe) is going to come over here Saturday and play hard. They are going to play well,” Erwin coach David Rhoney said.
“Both teams are going to lay it on the line. Whoever plays harder and executes is going to win.”
The Black Hawks took care of business in their first-round game Friday, eliminating North Henderson, 69-58.
North Buncombe led 19-4 after the first quarter and 35-22 at halftime.
Daniel Burchette (28 points), Brennan Hockaday (16) and Blake Mathews (12) all reached double figures.
Hockaday (11) and Mathews (nine) also combined for 20 rebounds.