Kinston wins third straight 2-A state title
Posted March 15, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — The Kinston Vikings have done it again.
Trailing at halftime, the Vikings battled back in the third quarter and finished the game on an 11-3 run to down the North Rowan Cavaliers and win their third consecutive 2-A boys' basketball state championship Saturday afternoon at Reynolds Coliseum.
"It's an amazing feat," said Kinston head coach Perry Tyndall. "What these kids accomplish is amazing. Three in a row is tough to do."
The game began especially tough for the Vikings, who downed Cuthbertson High School for their previous two titles in 2012 and 2013. After a closely-contested first two quarters, the Vikings were down by a point to the Cavaliers at halftime. Boys Basketball: Kinston vs. North Rowan (Mar. 15, 2014)
The second half was a different story for Kinston. After being held to five points in the first half, highly-recruited Kinston forward Brandon Ingram exploded for 15 points in the third quarter to bring the Vikings back into the lead entering the final eight minutes of play.
Up by a point in the final period, the Vikings showed their poise and championship experience, getting six consecutive points from point guard Andrew Lopez to start the quarter.
"I told them we needed to attack," Tyndall said. "In the first half, we didn't do a good job of recognizing they were switching defenses on us... we were a little bit out of sorts and not taking care of the ball and the biggest thing was just to attack."
After attacking the basket gave the Vikings a four-point lead midway through the quarter, the team slowed its pace to drain time from the clock. When the Cavaliers started intentionally fouling, Kinston scored its last 11 points from the foul line while holding the Cavs to just three points on the other end.
The product was a 67-57 state championship win.
Ingram, a 6-foot-9 junior with an offer from UNC and heavy interest from Duke, finished as the game's Most Valuable Player. He scored 28 points to go along with his 16 rebounds. Ingram said being more aggressive in the second half made the difference after the Cavalier defense held him in check to start the game.
"Fourth quarter, I know what my team needs and I’m doing everything," Ingram said. "I’m not going to force anything, I’m going to get the shots that the team needs."
The eastern team's Most Outstanding Player, Lopez finished with 27 points. Just three other Viking players scored in the game.
"What these guys do, there’s almost-unfair expectations every year," Tyndall said. "They keep finding a way to be business-like and to work hard and to get in these situations, because there’s no guarantee to get here. There’s no guarantee. Anybody can make it seem like it is, but to get here is a major testament to my players."
Ingram shot 7-14 from the field and 13-15 from the foul line to help boost the team to the win. As a team, Kinston shot 22-28 from the line while North Rowan shot 11-20.
"We missed ours, they made theirs and they came out on top," said North Rowan head coach Andrew Mitchell.
Sophomore player Jalen Sanders scored 19 points for North Rowan in the championship loss. He was named the Cavaliers' Most Outstanding Player for his performance. Mike Bowman scored 17 points and Michael Conner Jr. scored 15. After the game, an emotional Mitchell said he was proud of his players.
"A lot of people saw me with some tears and told me to hold my head up, but those were tears of joy," Mitchell said.
Kinston won the rebounding battle 31-28 in the game. The Vikings also demonstrated their post presence by outscoring the Cavaliers in the paint, 26-20.
"Give North Rowan a lot of credit," Tyndall said. "We spent a lot of time trying to prepare for what they we were going to give us. They’re so balanced and they’re so well-coached, we knew we were going to have tough assignments at all positions."
The championship win adds to the legacy of the already-storied Kinston Viking program. Since 1948, the Vikings have appeared in 20 state title games in all four classifications. The program now has ten all-time state titles.
Follow Zach Mayo on Twitter at @ZachMayoHSOT