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worst when we play here. But we just dug
deep and figured out how to get this
[regional] championship done. Now, we
got to go on to the state championship.
We'll be ready, I can promise you that."
Gwyn, who has emerged as a prime
time scorer in recent weeks, failed to reach
double digits and finished with nine points.
Even though he shot blanks in the first
half, he compensated nicely with three 3s
in the second half, which included the
With the score tied at 60 and just under
12 seconds left to play, Gwyn took a pass
from Justice Goodloc and promptly buried
the decisive shot from 28 feet out.
"I knew it was good as soon as it left
my hand," said Gwyn, who has played on
three national-championship teams with
the CP3 All-Stars. "I try to keep myself
prepared to take the shot in a big game like
During a time-out in the closing sec
onds, Gould drew up a play that gave his
team three scoring options. The first choice
was to get the ball inside to Zaire Williams,
who had ruled the p&int all game long. If
Williams wasn't open, Goodloe had the
green light to attack the basket, or drive the
lane and make a kick-out pass to Gwyn.
As the play unfolded, Goodloe noticed
that Williams was well-covered. But he
also realized that Gwyn had enough space
on the right wing to receive his pass and
take the shot.
We had Zaire down on the low block,
so they had to pick their poison," said
Gould. "They didn't know if it was going'
to be Zaire on the inside, or Justice turning,
the corner, or Chaz sliding away [to an
open area]. We wanted to put No. 11
[Lavonte Knox] in a position where he had
to make a tough decision."
Prep's defense and scoring balance
helped set die stage for the comeback. '
Williams finished with 18 points and 12
rebounds and Daivien Williamson added
12 points. Goodloe contributed 11 points
and five assists.
Kendrick Edwards came off the bench
to deliver huge boost at both ends of the
floor. Edwards had nine points and six
boards. But equally important was his
The Phoenix trailed 29-20 at the half,
and appeared to be in trouble. Edwards led
an intense defensive effort that helped Prep
gain some much-needed momentum. By
the end of the third quarter, the game was
tied at 44.
"Kendrick has done that for us all
year," said Gould. "But we do have others
who have come through for us on different
nights. We just figure out how to survive
Aside from defense, Prep got back in
contention thanks to a solid effort on the
boards. The Phoenix held a huge rebound
ing advantage (38-13). On the other hand,
woeful free-throw shooting (8-for-23)
could come back to haunt Gould's team.
"We can't afford to miss so many foul
shots," said Gould. "If we wind up missing
IS free throws in the championship game,
we are going to lose. At this stage of the
season, you have to take advantage of
Lincoln Charter (29-4) entered the
regional final as a virtual scoring machine.
The Eagles bad averaged 89.7 points
through the first four games of the state
playoffs. Koby Shubert and Knox com
bined to score 19 of Lincoln Charter's 29
ni i . J !? J ? ? t ? A
a nu Den aeuverea a game-nign iv
points in defeat. Knox added 16 points and
Logan Foster scored 10.
"We knew that Prep would come out in
the second half and go to 11 [Williams],"
said coach Bradley Gabriel of Lincoln
Charter. "But we didn't know that 14
[Gwyn] was going to have a career night in
the second half. The kid hit a very tough
shot at the very end. So, you just have to
tip your hat to them. This game was a tes
tament to just how good these two teams
This year marks the
fifth straight season
that Coach Andre
Gould has led
to the Class 1-A state
Photos by Craig T. Greenlee
Winston-Salem Prep's Kendrick Edwards came off the bench to provide tenacity
and relentlessness at both ends of the floor.
In the regional title
game, Atkins controlled the
tempo early, primarily
because of its willingness
to attack the basket. The
Camels went up 14-12 at
the end of the first quarter.
But after that, Prep eventu
ally got in sync and pulled
ahead in the closing min
utes of the first half to take
a 29-24 lead at intermis
? The Phoenix held
steady in spite of point
guard Jada Craig's foul
problems. Craig, the team's
floor leader and top scorer,
was whistled for her fourth
foul with 1:19 remaining in
the third quarter. She
fouled out in the fourth
quarter and finished with
Even though Craig was
forced to sit and watch,
Prep (27-3) was able to add
to its four-point lead.
Christina Caesar had a
three-point play and
Kristian Saunders scored
inside to push the lead to
42-34 at the end of the third
"We preach team," said
Love. "And on this team,
we have seven other very
talented kids. Any one of
them can go big at any
time. So you can't key on
just one person (to stop).
Tonight, it was Christina's
and (Mychala) Wolfe's
time to step up."
Caesar shot 50 percent
from the field and scored a
game-high 16 points.
Wolfe (13 points) provided
timely outside shooting
and hit four 3-pointers in
the process. Dominique
Claytor turned in a solid
performance at both ends
of the court with eight
points, five rebounds, three
assists and two steals.
"The key for me was
being able to keep up with
who I was guarding and not
get into foul trouble," said
Wolf, who shot 67 percent
from 3-point distance.
"Offensively, I just had to
focus on my shot and not
In the fourth quarter.
Prep spread the floor to
take time off the clock,
which forced Atkins to
foul. The Phoenix closed
the game out to win by hit
ting 11 -of-14 free throws in
the second half. It was a
much different perform
ance than the first half
when it went O-for-7 from
the foul line.
The seeds for Prep's
state championship run
were sewn two years ago
when the Phoenix lost to
Bishop McGuinness (49
46) in the semifinals of the
Class 1-A West Regionals.
McGuinness went on to
capture its ninth straight
The memory of that
defeat lingered in the play
ers' minds, but it also
served as a powerful moti
vational tool for the follow
"That game (loss to
McGuinness) stayed with
us," said Caesar. "On that
day, they were not better
than us. We did a lot of
crazy things that we
shouldn't have done. After
that game, we just kept
Atkins (21-7) had high
expectations for this con
test and for good reason.
Over the two previous sea
sons, the Camels split two
tegular-season games with
Prep. This season, they lost
both games by an average
margin of four points.
"It's very disappointing
because we feel like we
could've played much bet
ter," said coach Louis
Lowery of Atkins. "We've
always played them close,
but close is only good in
horseshoes. The main thing
is that defensively, we did
n't do our job. We take
pride in keeping teams in
the 30s and 40s."
Up until last Saturday,
the Camels played at a
superlative level in the
postseason. Although they
finished No. 2 behind Prep
in the ultra-competitive
Northwest 1-A Conference,
they were seeded 12th in
the West Region. The low
seeding didn't matter.
Atkins pulled off consecu
tive upsets of No. 4 Elkin
and No. 1 seed Hiwassee
Dam to advance to the
Power forward Saryna
Carpenter finished her high
school career at Atkins
with a double-double (13
points and 11 rebounds).
Fellow seniors "fyler
Mercer scored 13 points
and Tyler Davenport added
Photo by Craig T Greenlee
Kay la Robinson (23) has developed as one of Winston-Salem Prep's most versa
from paf* Bf
numbing because of the road the Camels traveled to qual
ify for the regional final.
The confidence level of this team soared to new
heights after Atkins knocked off the West Region's No. 1
seed (Hiwassee Dam) on its home floor. The way the
game vs. Prep turned out, though, was far firbm what the
Camels had envisioned.
Although Atkins and Prep had never faced off in the
playoffs, the Camels*proved they could more than hold
' their own in previously played regular-season match-ups.
But that's not what transpired in the regional champi
The Camels had a sub-par day all across the board. As
a team, they shot 26.2 percent from the field for die game.
The usually stout defense, which typically fences oppo
nents to shoot a low percentage, wasn't what it needed to
be in this high stakes contest. Prep shot SO per cent from
"Our defense wasn't as sharp as it normally is," said
Lowery. "As the coach, I take the responsibility for that.
Our (defensive) rotations just weren't that good today.
What really hurt us is that they were able to get the ball to
places where we normally don't allow teams to get the
One of the keys to Atkins downfall was the absence of
production from Armani Hampton, a senior forward, who
has signed to play at Appalachian State. Hampton aver
aged over 15 points a game for her career. But last week
end she finished with one point and had just one field goal
attempt for the entire game. Hampton, who fouled out in
the fourth quarter, had four rebounds.
"That was surprising to me," said Lowery. "We were,
actually trying to get the ball in to her. That was a big dif
ference for us. Normally, we have three people (to score)
in double figures. We did that today. But if she had been
able to score more, it would've given us four players (in
double figures) and that would have put us way over the
Tyler Mercer turned in the best individual perform
ance for Atkins. The senior point guard had 13 points,
which included three 3-pointers. Mercer's offensive
aggressiveness enabled her team to stay in contention for
a good portion of the game.
"I just tried to take advantage of what they were doing
defensively," said Mercer. "Whether it was taking the
open shot or attacking the basket, I just wanted to do
everything I could to help my team out."
Atkins loses six seniors off this season's history-mak
ing crew. It remains to be seen whether die Camels will
have to rebuild or reload for next season. The key return
ing players includes sophomore forward Taylor Blakely
and post player Kayla Chrisp. Departing senior Saryna
Carpenter has no doubts that girls basketball at Atkins
will continue to grow and flourish.
"With the sdason we had, it definitely gives the
younger players confidence for the future," said
Carpenter who scored 13 points and pulled down 11
rebounds against Prep. "They've seen for themselves that
we can do it (comp^e with the best teams in the state).
We woe able to set die bar higher and higher every year."
Lowery paid homage to the Camels' senior class - [
Hampton, Carpenter, Davenport, Mercer, Chandler
Robinson and Mikalah Muhammad - who were key fig
ures in the girls' basketball program rising to prominence.
"Those six were very instrumental in the turnaround
at Atkins," said Lowery. "They were the main contribu
tors who helped to put us on the map. I've had them for
four years and I thank Cod that they're in my life."
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