No. 1 Orange dunks rival Chapel Hill, moves into 3rd round
Orange senior forward J.D. Brooks dashed downcourt like Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt, went vertical like he had rockets in his shoes, and slam-dunked the ball with authority to put his Panthers up 34-31 in the second quarter against Chapel Hill Wednesday night.
That explosive fast break was just part of his 18-point scoring barrage in helping the No. 1 seed and host Panthers bounce Chapel Hill out of the state 3-A playoffs, 72-63.
Orange hosts Eastern Alamance at 7 p.m. Friday in a third-round game. The winner is off to Fayetteville and the East Region semifinals next week.
“I really don’t know much about them at all,” Orange coach Greg Motley said of Friday’s opponent.
But let’s rewind.
Brooks’ dunk started when Orange senior forward Keegan Crabtree blocked a shot by the Tigers’ junior forward Jeremy Werden. Crabtree, who had 15 points, kicked out to Orange junior guard Tay Jones, who stumbled but had the presence of mind to tip the ball to Brooks.
It was Brooks’ second slam dunk of the half. He stuffed one home at 2:47 of the first period after Crabtree stole the ball and passed it out to his teammate on a fast break.
Then there was that tip-in by Brooks at 3:42 of the final period that started after Crabtree blocked a shot by Tigers freshman forward David Caraher that put the Panthers up 61-51.
“They’re stepping up. That’s what they should be doing,” said Motley, who was honored before the game as Big Eight 3-A Conference Coach of the Year.
“Those two guys are our seniors and this is their last run, so whatever they do in these games is going to be what they get done as far as their high school careers,” Motley said. “We’re just proud of them.”
Orange grabbed its biggest lead of 15 points, 54-39, at 2:50 of the third period in a game that was a virtual foulfest with two players fouling out on both teams.
“It was a physical game,” Motley said. But with players getting in foul trouble he didn’t change his game plan.
“We still were aggressive, but we were trying to be aggressive without touching,” Motley said. “Tonight they were calling a touch is a foul, so our kids didn’t do a good job of being smart and getting their hands off.”
Nor did they do particularly well at the free throw line, going 18 of 34.
“That’s exactly what we told them right then in the locker room. We said we’ve got to do a better job of finishing easy opportunities” Motley said. “We feel like we missed a bunch of layups tonight we should have made. We missed a bunch of free throws we should have made.”
Down 29-26 at 3:47 of the second period, Orange tied it up with a 3-point shot from a wide open A.J. Bradsher. Brooks then sank a pair of free throws to put the Panthers up 31-29 on the sixth and final lead change of the half.
That was part of a 14-5 Orange run to end the first half with its biggest lead of the game. Junior guard Jawan Chambers made it 43-34 when he pounded a 3-pointer from 6 feet behind the key with 5 seconds remaining in the period. Chambers had 15 points on the night.
Orange would not relinquish the lead the rest of the game.
Werden was leading scorer for Chapel Hill with 16. Senior guard Andy Gillespie had 12, and junior guard Jamil Walker scored 10.
The Panthers are the No. 1 seed in the Eastern region, but Motley wasn’t keen on discussing the ranking.
“We just really don’t talk about it much. They [the players] know it because they saw the site, and they know we got the No. 1 seed, and that was an accomplishment,” Motley said. “So we talked about it as an accomplishment and put it to the side. We’ve got to play every day.”
ORANGE 72, CHAPEL HILL 63
Chapel Hill 19 15 12 17 — 63
Orange 16 27 11 18 — 72
CHAPEL HILL — Jeremy Werden 16, Andy Gillespie 14, Jamil Walker 10, Karl Hill 7, Josh Hennen 5, Shane Turner 5, David Caraher 4, Ben Brower 2.
ORANGE — J.D. Brooks 18, Jawan Chambers 15, Keegan Crabtree 15, A.J. Bradsher 7, Tay Jones 6, Eryk Brandon-Dean 4, Jace Jordan Cornell 3, Jeff Campbell 2, Reggie Bradsher 1, C.J. Brown 1.
Records—Chapel Hill 19-7, Orange 23-5.