Fayetteville Christian School looked to spoil Senior Night for Cape Fear Christian Academy’s varsity boys basketball team, but the Eagles narrowly escaped with a 58-55 victory in Sandhills Athletic Conference play on Friday night.
“It was tough,” said Cape Fear Christian boys assistant coach Michael Dial. “I would have liked for us to have won by a little more. If we had made a few more free throws and not had as many turnovers, it would have been a far better outcome for us, but I’m glad we got the win.”
A pair of seniors led the way for the Eagles (13-10, 3-5 SAC). Austin Locklear had 24 points on a night where he surpassed the 1,000-point career milestone and Jeremyah McWilliams had 14 points.
“Austin went through a tough stretch where he was overthinking a little too much,” Dial said. “Tonight, he was settled in and he and Jeremyah had a huge game.”
Locklear transferred to CFCA for his senior season.
Junior Silla Tako also scored in double figures, with 10 points, including a key pair of old fashioned three-point plays.
“We tell Silla to be aggressive,” Dial said. “When he comes off of the bench, we tell him to be as aggressive as his brother is, Paul. When he came in tonight, they had hit a three and went up three and he came right back down and got and ‘and one’ and that was huge. Turned the momentum around and I think we went on a little run there and took the lead. He was huge coming off of the bench and we’re going to find him some more minutes. When he’s out there and he’s aggressive, it’s highly productive. He can rebound the ball, block shots and score. He missed a few free throws tonight, but we’re working with him and it’s going to get better.”
Jamael Carter had five points, Paul Tako had four points and Eli O’Brien had one point.
Junior Kelton Battle and senior Jaden Scriven had 12 points apiece and senior Daunte Gardner had 11 points to lead the Warriors (7-14, 0-8).
Prior to the game, Cape Fear Christian Academy honored one boys swimming senior: Spencer George and six boys basketball seniors: Jeremyah McWilliams, Greg Moneymaker, Austin Locklear, Jamael Carter, Parker Watson and Eli O’Brien. Basketball senior Alijah Miles was not present because of an injury.
“Eli O’Brien, he’s Cape Fear Christian through and through,” Dial said. “He’s been here. He’s a good leader. He’s a captain for us. Jamael is a good kid. A smart kid. Jeremyah seemed to have his best game as an Eagle tonight on Senior Night. Austin, if we can keep him going, it’ll get scary. Parker Watson, he didn’t play for us tonight. I think he’s still rehabbing his knee a little bit, but I think he’s going to be ready here shortly. Alijah’s not here tonight because he messed up his ankle against Village Christian last week. And Greg, he’s a huge part of this program, too. He’s been here now three years, so he’s a huge part of what we came into and build on right now.”
The Eagles struggled through the first quarter and the Warriors led 11-7 at the end of the quarter. McWilliams had six of the Eagles’ seven points in the quarter.
After CFCA outscored FCS 17-11 in the second quarter to lead 24-22 at halftime, both teams scored 17 points in the third quarter to keep the margin at two heading into the final frame.
Also of note during the second quarter, Locklear hit a three-pointer that, at the time, gave him eight points in the game, but also gave him his 1,000th career point. At the next dead ball, an announcement was made recognizing him for his achievement.
With the game tied 47-47 late in the fourth, Locklear scored and, after a defensive stop, Carter scored in transition to give the Eagles a four-point lead.
The Warriors continued to battle and keep the game close, but the Eagles made just enough of their free throws to maintain the lead.
After Scriven hit a three to cut the lead to 57-55, FCS called its final timeout with 12 seconds left. McWilliams was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play and made one of his two shots at the line to push the lead to three. The Warriors got a potential game-tying three off with time to spare, but it bounced off of the rim and Paul Tako grabbed the rebound and held on to run out the clock.
In the girls game, Cape Fear Christian played hard but fell 70-28 against Fayetteville Christian.
“I’m really thankful about how the girls played tonight, really,” said Cape Fear Christian girls coach Bobby Lamb. “Because when we played this team last time, they were up by about 30 points in the first quarter. I feel like we did kind of break the press a little bit tonight, so I was kind of tickled a little bit that they did as good as they did. The score didn’t reflect it, but I did enjoy it.”
Junior Zykia Matthews had 12 points to lead the Eagles (7-15, 1-7).
Aubree Bass had six points. Kristen Bass had four points. Talisha McNeill, Meredith Taylor and Laney Trainer had two points apiece.
Lamb was pleased with the defense sophomore Trinity Olive played off of the bench in the second half.
“The thing I really enjoyed about tonight was Trinity going in there and shutting down 24 (Noni Russell) and 13 (Jahriel Murchison) when I told her to go in there in a box-and-one,” Lamb said. “She really came off the bench with a whole lot of energy and really helped us out in the second half.”
Senior Noni Russell had 29 points, sophomore Le’asia Matthews had 19 points and seventh-grader Jahriel Murchison had 13 points to lead the Warriors.
Fayetteville Christian opened the game with 10 unanswered points and never trailed, outscoring Cape Fear Christian 25-10 in the first quarter, 19-8 in the second, 15-6 in the third and 11-4 in the fourth.
Cape Fear Christian is at home against Freedom Christian Academy on Tuesday night. It will be Senior Night for the CFCA basketball girls and cheerleaders.