Feb 27, 2014
Gary Clark (11) with the ball for Clayton. HighSchoolOT Holiday Invitational at Broughton High School, Raleigh N.C. held on December 28, 2013. The afternoon games included Broughton and Clayton High School. After a close game between the home team and Clayton, Broughton wins with a final score of 67 – 61. (Lexi Baird/ WRAL Contributor)
Friday night is one of the most fun nights of the high school basketball season.
Win or lose, Friday night is the last time teams will play on their home floors this year. Next week we head to neutral sites in Fayetteville and Greensboro for regionals, and the week after that state championships are played at the Dean Smith Center and Reynolds Coliseum.
Traditionally, these Friday night games have been very entertaining. There is a lot to watch going into the third round, and I have five story lines I'm keeping an eye on.
Southeast Raleigh's girls avoid the upset
We've had Southeast Raleigh pegged as a 4-A favorite in girls basketball all season. The Bulldogs went through much of the regular season without a problem, only to come up short of the overall No. 1 seed.
Southeast Raleigh has still had home court advantage though, and in the second round the Bulldogs were nearly upset.
In the first quarter on Wednesday, Southeast Raleigh scored just four points and trailed Jordan 6-4 going into the second quarter. The Bulldogs managed a one-point, 17-16 lead at halftime, but were never able to pull away in the second half.
Southeast did advance with a 39-34 win over the Falcons.
It was a low-scoring game for a Bulldogs team that averages over 60 points per game this season.
In round one, Southeast Raleigh cruised past Northern Durham with a 61-48 win, thanks in large part to a dominant first half.
On Friday, Southeast Raleigh will host Laney, which has pulled off road upsets in the first two rounds against East Wake (50-47) and South Central (58-44).
Laney is 23-5 this season and will be a formidable opponent for the Bulldogs on Friday night. Aside from win over East Wake on Monday night, Laney has also played Millbrook from Wake County. Millbrook defeated Laney in December, 44-40.
We could be on our way to seeing a regional rematch between Southeast Raleigh and Millbrook, a match-up that is sure to be fun.
Can Millbrook send two teams again?
Over the last few seasons, has there been a school in the east more consistent in girls and boys basketball than Millbrook?
The Millbrook girls have been to three straight state championships, winning the last two. The Millbrook boys saw a string of regional appearances end last year after falling to Apex in the second round of the playoffs.
But don't look now, it's possible that both the Millbrook girls and boys are back in the eastern regional next week.
The Millbrook boys basketball team entered the season a favorite to win the Cap 8 (which it did, convincingly) and potentially make a run at a state championship. Using its defense and depth, the Wildcats are in a position to do just that.
Millbrook is winning by an average of more than 20 points per game, and defeated Garner easily on Wednesday night, 91-70.
Millbrook has only scored less than 60 points once since December, and has scored 90 or more points in seven of its last ten games, including 105 points against Heritage on Feb. 7. Even more impressive, nine of the last ten games, the Wildcats have scored more than 85 points.
Stopping Millbrook will be difficult for Seventy-First on Friday night, and as long as Millbrook does what it has been doing for much of the season, they should be in Fayetteville next week.
Perhaps the fact that the Millbrook girls team is in this position is more of a story. After losing eight seniors last season (all of which are playing college basketball now), Millbrook tied Broughton for the Cap 8 Conference title, earned the overall No. 1 seed in the state playoffs, and are on the verge of making it back to regionals.
The youth and inexperience are certainly something to look at when you're discussing this Millbrook team, but head coach Chris East has his team playing like a veteran squad right now.
On Wednesday night, Millbrook's girls easily defeated Seventy-First, 71-52. Dazia Powell is a big reason why. Powell has scored 16 and 27 points in the first two playoff games for the Wildcats.
Millbrook will face a 17-11 Ashley team on Friday which edged past Clayton and Jack Britt in the first two rounds to advance.
The Broughton-Clayton rematch
If you attended the HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational in December, you may have seen round one of this game.
Broughton defeated Clayton in the Holiday Invitational 67-61, and now the two will meet for the right to advance to the Eastern Regional.
The first time around, Broughton had the home court advantage, but this time the Capitals will travel to Johnston County. Will that make a difference? It could. Clayton will have a good crowd there on Friday night, no question.
December's game between these two was a hard-fought one. Broughton took a 14-12 lead in the first quarter, and Clayton closed within one point by halftime, trailing 28-27.
Broughton extended the lead in the third quarter though, scoring 20 points and holding Clayton to 14, then held on in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
Four Broughton players scored in double-figures that game. Cameron Gottfried, who has committed to Siena, scored 17 points to lead the Caps. Jerome Robinson had 15 points, Roy McMillan had 14 points, and Austin Burnette posted 12 points.
The Caps have been shooting the ball well lately, especially Gottfried, who had 17 points on Monday, but was held to nine on Wednesday at South Central.
Robinson has also had some very good games as of late, including a 24-point performance in the first round against New Bern.
Broughton will have to find an answer for Gary Clark – both offensively and defensively.
In the first meeting between these two teams, Clark had 34 points and 12 rebounds. Since then, Clark has had a number of incredible performances, including a 47-point performance against Southeast Raleigh last week.
In January against West Johnston, Clark posted a quadruple-double, the first ever verified quadruple-double in N.C. High School Athletic Association history. Clark posted 22 points, 21 rebounds, 15 blocked shots and 10 assists.
If you're looking for a game to go to on Friday, this one won't disappoint.
Follow Nick Stevens on Twitter @NickStevensHSOT
This blog post is closed for comments.