Collins scores 20 as Cedar Ridge routs NCSSM 77-48 in season opener

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Updated: November 19, 2019

Just as the clock went to zero in his head coaching debut, Jaison Brooks wanted to capture the moment that he wishes would last forever.

It was a night every coach dreams of in his first game. Cedar Ridge, which went 1-23 the season before, had just routed the North Carolina School of Science and Match 77-48. The gym, triggered by the electrifying play of guard Mekai Collins, started to empty.

Brooks pulled out his iPhone to take a photo of the scoreboard, where the Red Wolves equalled its win total from all of last season on opening night.

It was certainly one to remember for the Red Wolves, who had as much life and enthusiasm than any point last year. Collins, in his return to Cedar Ridge after he spent his junior season at Orange, finished with 20 points to lead all scorers.

Junior Ian Johnson added ten points on a night where 14 Red Wolves scored.

“Mekai is one piece of the puzzle,” said Brooks. “He’s an awesome player. He plays with great intensity. He knows how to handle the ball, attack the basket and score. That’s an valuable asset that we definitely need on this team. The collaborative effort of everyone has added something to this team. He’s added some gasoline to the fire.”

Science and Math tied the game at 9 midway through the first quarter after a three-pointer from Ben Kersey. Johnson followed with a three-pointer, and Andrew Altieri canned a three-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to put Cedar Ridge ahead 25-13.

The Red Wolves finished the first half with 49 points, which included two more three-pointers from Johnson. James Ragland, Grayson Ramos and Chris Tinnen also added treys in a decisive spurt that put the game away. For comparison’s sake, Cedar Ridge failed to score 49 points in regulation in 17 of its 24 games last season.

At one point in the second half, Cedar Ridge led 54-27. It was a ridiculously dominant showing by Cedar Ridge after last season’s 1-win campaign, it’s hard to believe it was the same team. Of course, in some ways it wasn’t with Collins’ reemergence added a scoring punch that the Red Wolves desperately lacked last season.

Milan Wilkerson had 14 points to lead the Unicorns (0-3).

Cedar Ridge travels to Carrboro on Wednesday, then goes to Chatham Charter in Siler City on Thursday.

In the women’s game, NCSSM defeated Cedar Ridge 52-31. It was William Dobbs’ debut as head coach of the Lady Red Wolves.

Cedar Ridge jumped out to an 8-2 lead behind three-pointers from NaDia Oswald and Amiyah Gibbs. The Unicorns shifted into a 1-2-2 full-court zone press, which left the Red Wolves in a quandary since it was their first game without since the graduation of its all-time leading scorer, Madison Wardlow.

The Unicorns went on a 18-2 run and held the Red Wolves to two field goals in the second quarter. NCSSM led 21-15 at the half. They pulled away late.

Oswald was the only Red Wolf in doubles figures with eleven points. Gibbs scored five.

Bella Alfaro paced NCSSM with 15 points, while Anna Coley added 12.

Cedar Ridge will travel to Carrboro on Wednesday night at 6.

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