RALEIGH, N.C. – In a highly anticipated matchup of a pair of defending state champions, it was the defending 3A State Champions, Cox Mill, that held on to down last year’s 2A State Champions, Northside-Jacksonville, by a narrow 65-63 margin.
The two teams played a very tight first half, with Cox Mill taking a slim 36-31 lead into the halftime break, but the Chargers came out firing in the third quarter, raising their lead to as many as 13 around the midway point of the third frame.
As champions typically do, Northside-Jacksonville battled back, eventually drawing even with the Chargers on a three-point bomb by Gabe Kirkendoll, knotting the game at 63 all with just 19 seconds remaining.
Wendell Moore, Jr., last year’s 3A Championship Game Most Valuable Player, stepped up to the line with seven seconds to go and knocked down two free throws to give the Chargers a 65-63 lead. Northside had one final push up the floor, and Levi Ramirez heaved a ball, that went in for three, but it was ruled he had stepped on the sideline before the shot, and the shot waived off with only a second remaining, sending Cox Mill to their second-straight State Championship.
Moore, Jr. struggled from the floor all game, as a stingy Monarch defense held him to just 3 of 13 from the floor. He was able to get to the foul line 19 times as he converted 17 of those free throws on the way to 24 points and Charlie Adams NCHSAA 3A Men’s Basketball Championship Game Most Valuable Player honors for the second year in a row.
Caleb Stone-Carrawell was huge for the Chargers as well, scoring 18 points on 8-14 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers. Stone-Carrawell was named the Chargers’ Most Outstanding Player. Rechon “Leaky” Black had 9 points in the game, but did pick up six steals, helping the Chargers win the turnover battle by a 22-11 margin.
Kenny Dye was the Most Outstanding Player for Northside-Jacksonville. The Monarchs guard scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. Two other Monarchs were in double-figures with Kirkendoll scoring 16 with 7 rebounds. He hit 3 of 4 from beyond the arc including the game-tying shot with 19 seconds to play. Jason Robinson was also in double-figures, scoring 13 and coming up a rebound shy of a double-double with 9 boards.
Northside-Jacksonville closed the book on the year with a record of 29-1 on the season, undefeated in the Coastal 3A Conference where they were the champions. The Monarchs streaked to 59 consecutive wins prior to the loss to Cox Mill in the State Championship Game, and won the Eastern Regional Championship for the second time in school history.
Cox Mill won the school’s second state basketball championship, winning the Southern Piedmont 3A Conference for the second year in a row. The Chargers won the Western Regional Championship for the second time in school history, and claimed back-to-back state championships at the 3A level.