Prep Playoffs: Jordan, Chapel Hill, Northwood host 3rd round games
The fourth time is the a) charm, b) be-all, end-all or c) back to the drawing board?
When Hillside visits Jordan and Oxford Webb plays at Chapel Hill tonight in the Mideast Regional quarerfinals, it will be the fourth time the boys' basketball teams have faced each other.
The winners move on to next week’s regional semifinals in Fayetteville. The losers can catch up on schoolwork and get ready for spring break.
Also on tap tonight are a pair of girls’ regional quarterfinals. No. 11 seed Southern Guilford (14-11) will be a huge underdog when it travels to No. 2 Chapel Hill (28-1) tonight at 6:30, and in a battle of closely matched programs, No. 3 Kinston (23-4) visits No. 2 Northwood (24-4) in Pittsboro at 7 p.m.
No. 5 regional seed Hillside (20-7) has been consistent against No. 1 Jordan (23-4). But not in a good way.
Jordan beat the Hornets at home 67-56, on the road 62-55, and in the PAC-6 4-A Tournament championship game at Northern High School 67-49 a week ago tonight.
The 7 p.m. contest is at Jordan.
Hillside’s up-tempo offense and high-pressure defense tends to play into Jordan’s hands.
While both teams average around 61 points per game, Hillside depends heavily on turnovers to fuel its fast break. Jordan has 6-8 PAC-6 co-player of the year Jared Hendryx to set up at midcourt when Hillside presses and act as a safety valve for his backcourt — point guards Mike Lee and Josh Thompson, and an array of wings including Darien Ortiz, K.J. Alston and Willie Weeks — who can handle the ball and have the speed to give it up to Hendryx.
Hendryx also has about a four-inch height advantage against anyone Hillside uses to guard him in the post and can be deadly in halfcourt sets on offense, both scoring and kicking out when facing double teams.
Hillside’s best answer might have to come from the outside shooting of R.J. Robinson, Marius McAllister and De’Shon Self. A hot night by any or all of those three would loosen Jordan’s zone and provide driving lanes for Self and fellow point guard D’Ontray Johnson. Malik Evans, Hillside’s 6-4 post player, needs to stay out of foul trouble and make Hendryx pay with easy buckets when Hillside’s guards drive and dish.
At Chapel Hill, the Tigers get their third straight home game against Webb and 6-9 power forward Isaiah Hicks, a North Carolina signee who’s among the best in the nation.
No. 1 seed Chapel Hill (24-4) should go into this 8 p.m. game with confidence. After getting blown out 56-35 the first time the teams met in Oxford, Chapel Hill rebounded with a 55-52 win at home to tie No. 4 seed Webb (23-5) for the Carolina 6 Conference regular-season title and after winning a coin toss with the Warriors that gave the Tigers homecourt advantage in the conference tournament, won the tourney title over Webb 47-42.
Chapel Hill makes no secret of the fact that its strengths are defense, rebounding and depth. They’ll send waves of defenders at the Warriors and may lean heavily on 6-4 Anthony Vanhook to put pester Hicks.
On the girls’ side, junior Jamella Smith leads three Chapel Hill double-figure scorers with 12 points a game. Sophomore Raziyah Farrington scores at a 10.3 clip, and junior Catherine Romaine is next at 10.2. The Tigers have balance, with three more players averaging at least seven points a game in freshman Autumn West (8.4) and sophomores Jessica Wall (7.6) and Tamia Eatmon (7.1).
Romaine, Smith, West and senior Laura Musalem average between five and seven rebounds a game for the Tigers.
Northwood’s offense is guard-oriented, with sophomore Shontai Totten and seniors Gabby Mehringer and Alexis Brower leading the scoring. The rebounding is balanced,with five players averaging in the neighborhood of three to five per game.
NOTES — The Hillside-Jordan winner will play in the East Region semifinals Tuesday night at Fayetteville’s Crown Coliseum, while the Webb-Chapel Hill winner will play Friday night in a semifinal at the same venue. ... On the girls' side, if Chapel Hill wins, it will play a regional semifinal Thursday night at Crown Coliseum. If it wins, Northwood would play its regional semifinal on Friday night at the neighboring Coliseum Arena.
FRIDAY NIGHT'S THIRD ROUND SCHEDULE
4-A Mideast Regional
Hillside (20-7) at Jordan (23-4), 7 p.m.
3-A Mideast Regional
Webb (23-5) at Chapel Hill (24-4), 8 p.m.
3-A Mideast Regional
Southern Guilford (14-13) at Chapel Hill (26-1), 6:30 p.m.
2-A East Regional
Kinston (23-4) at Northwood (24-4), 7 p.m.