3-A BOYS: Orange back in state quarters for 1st time since 2006
Orange needed a strong fourth quarter to hold off Eastern Alamance, and it got one from senior captain J.D. Brooks, who scored nine of his 23 points in the period to lead the Panthers to an 86-78 win Friday night.
No. 1 seed Orange (25-5) earned a Sweet Sixteen win and a berth in state 3-A quarterfinals Wednesday at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville where they’ll meet No. 5 seed West Brunswick.
The Panthers are making their second trip to the Eastern Regional semifinals under Coach Greg Motley, who last led Orange there in 2006.
“We expected a tremendous battle and that’s what we got,” Motley said. “I am proud of the kids for playing as hard as they did and pulling out the win.”
Orange took the lead early in the first quarter and then held on the rest of the way. Motley said he liked the way his team started the game.
The Panthers led 21-15 at the end of the first quarter but quickly pushed it to nine points on a layup by Eryk Brandon-Dean, who finished with nine points, early in the second.
Keegan Crabtree, who finished with 22 points, had nine in the second quarter to help the Panthers build a 47-32 halftime advantage.
“My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball,” Crabtree said. “I just got some good, open shots.”
Orange maintained its double-digit lead throughout the third quarter and held a 70-55 margin going into the final eight minutes.
The Panthers needed that lead as Eastern Alamance started off hot in the fourth quarter. The Eagles went on an 11-2 run to start the quarter and got it down to 72-66 before a Tay Jones dunk.
Eastern Alamance cut the lead down to three points on one occasion when Davari Jones hit one of two free throws to make it 78-75. But that was as close as Orange let them get.
“That’s kind of what we do,” Motley said. “We get leads and let them go. But at the end I thought we’d be tough enough to finish them off and we did.”
Orange then went up by five points as Brooks rebounded his own missed free throw and jammed it in for an 80-75 lead with under two minutes to play.
“I didn’t expect it to come back to me like that and nobody else was in the lane, so I went in of the dunk,” Brooks said.
Orange needed Brooks’ fourth-quarter contribution to counteract 11 points from Rasheed Reed, who finished with 16. And the Panthers were lucky when Eastern Alamance’s Lamont Robinson fouled out with 4:18 left to play after scoring 28 points.
NO. 1 ORANGE 86, NO. 9 EASTERN ALAMANCE 78
Eastern Alamance 15 17 23 23 — 78
Orange 21 26 23 16 — 86
EASTERN ALAMANCE — Joey Lanier 8, Lamont Robinson 28, Jacob Mann 5, Malcolm Summers 13, Rasheed Reed 16, Davari Moore 3, John Lamot 5.
ORANGE — Eryk Brandon-Dean 9, Tay Jones 13, Keegan Crabtree 22, Jawan Chambers 17, J.D. Brooks 23, Jace Jordan-Cornel 2.
3-Point goals—Eastern Alamance 4 (Mann, Summers, Robinson, Reed). Orange 6 (Crabtree 3, Chambers 3). Rebounds—Orange 39 (Brooks 14). Assists—Orange 19 (chambers 5, Crabtree 5).
Records—Eastern Alamance 23-5, Orange 25-5.