“It’s never easy, is it?” Cedar Ridge Boys Basketball Coach Clay Jones muttered to an assistant in the visitors locker room after meeting with his team.

Jones had reason to be happy and surly all at once. His Red Wolves had just defeated Carrboro 70-66 in the season opener. Senior Peyton Pappas scored 25 points, including a clutch 17-foot jumper with 2:06 remaining in a situation that was purely Pappas. Carrboro point guard Cole Phillips had just picked up his 4th foul seconds earlier, something Pappas was well aware of when he drove on Phillips and canned the jumper. There was nothing Phillips could do about it if he wanted to stay in the game.

On the other hand, Cedar Ridge blew a 14-point halftime lead. The Red Wolves were held to six points in the third quarter, forcing Jones to spend two full time outs. When his starters didn’t respond defensively during a 12-4 Carrboro run that tied the game at 49-49, he benched all of them at once for the final 1:39 of the third quarter.

It was a move reminiscent of Dean Smith, which was only fitting. Former UNC All-American Eric Montross was seated in the top row of the gym, watching his son Andrew play for Carrboro (he finished with seven points and 14 rebounds).

“I told the guys at halftime don’t be comfortable, and I think we were,” said Jones. “We’ve got some veteran guys but we’ve got some new guys who have got to learn how to play with a lead. We had some adversity tonight, but I’m pleased with a nonconference win at any time.”

Among the newest guys who made an impact on Tuesday night was Jacob Thomas, a transfer from Chapel Hill High. Thomas registered 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and eight rebounds.

Carrboro opened the fourth quarter with a 5-0 run, all from guard Zack Anderson to take a 54-49 lead. Pappas and Thomas responded with consecutive field goals to tie at 54.

Carrboro Brandon Richardson scored on a lay-in and was fouled by Jonathan Hall with 2:19 remaining. Richardson would hit the subsequent free throw to tie the game at 62.

That’s when Pappas scored his shot over Phillips. After Phillips was called for traveling, Thomas stuck a baseline jumper off an assist from Pappas to give Cedar Ridge a 66-62 lead. Pappas and Khalil Barnett both hit 2-shot free throws to carry the Red Wolves to the win.

Surprisingly, the Montross family carries big bodies across its family genes (yes, that’s sarcasm). It was something Cedar Ridge center Jonathan Hall knew when he faced Andrew Montross, who isn’t as tall as his 7-foot father, but is huskier. Nontheless, Hall bodied up against Montross and came away with 11 rebounds.

“I told John he did a good job against Montross,” said Jones. “We’ve got to get other guys to do that. He’s a hard worker defensively. Montross did a good job pulling John away from the basket and driving on him. Our help defense wasn’t present tonight, unfortunately.”

Barnett and Shane Evans finished with eight points. Pappas also had six assists. The Red Wolves host Bartlett Yancey on Friday night in Hillsborough.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *