Tie for MAC 3-A boys title

Tie for MAC 3-A boys title


Tie for MAC 3-A boys title


Erwin and North Buncombe took very different roads to the Mountain Athletic Conference 3-A championship.

Neither was a cakewalk.

“For us, that makes it sweeter,” Warriors boys basketball coach David Rhoney said after Friday’s 93-80 win at Asheville High.

“It was tough, and some of it was self-inflicted on our part at times. But we got here, and these kids earned it.”

Three different Erwin players scored 19 points on Friday – Alic Wynn, Colby Maltry and Malik Moore – while Jeremiah Jackson added 15. The Warriors were behind 38-32 at the half to the Cougars (12-9, 6-6), who were feeding off the emotion of their Senior Night.

Cameron Ray and Damon Scott each gave Asheville a game-high 22 points. Kelton Pace had 13 and Jalaan McPhail had 12.

“We got outplayed in the first half, and it looked like Asheville wanted it more,” Rhoney said.

“We challenged our kids to match their intensity.”

Friday was the fifth consecutive win for the Warriors, who were two games out of first place after a 77-73 loss at Reynolds (11-12, 4-8) on Jan. 23, but able to share their second consecutive regular-season title with the Black Hawks (20-3, 10-2).

The MAC 3-A tournament begins Monday in Weaverville, and it was determined Saturday that Erwin will be the top seed.

North Buncombe’s half of the MAC 3-A regular-season title is its first conference championship in boys basketball in five years. And it took two overtimes to cinch it Friday at Reynolds, 80-75.

The Black Hawks put five players in double figures, led by Blake Matthews (21 points). The other four top scorers were Andrew Garrett (14), Daniel Burchette (12), Brennan Hockaday (12) and David Elkins (12).

Kevin Church had nine points and North Buncombe was able to withstand a game-high 32 from the Rockets’ Jordan Andrews, 16 more from Evan Gillis and 13 from Zack Brown.

“It was an incredible basketball game and both teams played extremely hard,” North Buncombe coach Joey Bryson said.

“It was mostly back-and-forth, but I think we got down by as many as 15 (points) in the second half. We called a timeout and got refocused. This is such a resilient bunch. It was one of those typical late-season basketball games that is a lot of fun to coach and play in.”

Erwin and North Buncombe split their regular-season series. The Black Hawks won 61-56 on Jan. 15 in Weaverville and then lost the rematch, 82-67, on Feb. 6. Therefore, whoever goes farther in the MAC 3-A tournament will be awarded a No. 1 seed for the 3-A state playoffs.

How was the seeding for the MAC 3-A tournament determined?

By NCHSAA tiebreaker rules, Erwin is the No. 1 seed because it won both its games with the third-place team (Asheville) and No. 2 North Buncombe went 1-1 against the Cougars.

The MAC officially recognizes a 3-A and 4-A champion in every team sport. The 4-A tournament with McDowell and Roberson will be held all on the same night (Thursday) in Marion.

The MAC went without a basketball tournament of any kind, 3-A or 4-A, for the first time in league history last year. Some teams had as many as three regular-season games to make up after repeated postponements for weather.

Heavy snow is in the forecast for next week across Western North Carolina. And the North Buncombe district is usually hit as hard as any in Buncombe County when it comes to frozen precipitation.

Black Hawks athletic director Barry Owens said that four different scheduling-scenarios have been floated around if weather does interrupt.

If everything goes as originally planned, the No. 4-No. 5 boys and girls games will be played Monday in Weaverville.

Tuesday would be the boys semifinals, followed by the girls semis on Wednesday. The championship finals would then take place Friday night.

“(The schedule) might look a little funky,” Owens said.

“But we are going to do everything in our power to get this tournament in. Kids keep coming up and asking me, and I tell them that we’ll do whatever we can.”

Snow or no snow, the MAC 3-A tournament must be completed by Friday. The NCHSAA will not allow schools to play on Saturday as it will use that day to seed the state playoffs.

Owens said that in the event of a complete tournament cancellation, the Erwin and North Buncombe boys would have a special play-in game for the top seed in the conference.

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