Thanks in part to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association expanding the state basketball playoffs to 64 teams in each classification, the term “bubble teams” is now coined freely in prep basketball.
HighSchoolOT.com editors now work well into the early morning hours to determine the “last four in” and “first four out,” just as Joe Lunardi does. Only for a much bigger paycheck on a network with far less integrity.
The Cedar Ridge boys squad is a bubble team which helped its cause on Friday night by beating Roxboro Community 51-48 in Person County. In among his final games in a Red Wolves uniform, center Colby Cashaw was the most steady player on the floor.
Cashaw finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds as Cedar Ridge improved to 9-15. Coincidentally, that was also Cashaw’s stat line in Thursday 66-55 loss at Burlington Cummings.
“He finished his regular season career on a good note,” said Cedar Ridge Coach Clay Jo
With the NCHSAA allowing teams to subtract four nonconference losses because of Hurricane Matthew (which caused teams in eastern North Carolina to push football season one week back, leading to basketball teams playing shorthanded to open the season because the football playoffs ran long), Cedar Ridge has a 9-11 record. Projections by HighSchoolOT.com currently have the Red Wolves as among the last four out of the state playoffs, along with Concord, North Gaston and St. Stephens (all of whom have 9-11 records).
For Cedar Ridge, that makes Monday’s Big 8 Quarterfinal matchup against Northern Vance of paramount importance.
Unfortunately, Red Wolves coach Clay Jones had had to work hard just to put a complete team on the floor. Freshman B.J. Freeman missed Friday’s game because of a disciplinary measure. Freshman Mekai Collins missed Thursday’s game against Cummings, but he made up for it by hitting possibly the biggest shot of the game on Friday.
Moments after Roxboro’s Dylan Jones put the Bulldogs ahead 45-42 with a three-pointer, Collins tied the game with his own trey with 3:37 remaining. Cashaw drained two free throws to give Cedar Ridge the lead for good 47-45. After Khalil Hill drained a jumper to extend CRHS’ lead to 49-45, Collins sank two free throws with :19 remaining. Roxboro’s last-ditch three-pointer from C.J. Rios was an airball as time expired.
Collins finished with eleven points, seven steals and three assists.
“He’s similar to the give-and-take relationships I’ve had with other players before,” said Jones. “He makes you want to pull your hair out sometimes, but he’s a gamer.”
Dylan Jones was the only Roxboro player in double figures with 14 points.
Coach Clay Jones earned a victory in his return to his hometown. Jones grew up in Roxboro and played basketball at nearby Person High School.
“I had a lot of family, friends and classmates in the house tonight,” said Jones. “I’ve known (Roxboro Community Coach Justin) Bettendorf for a long time. We’re very good friends. He’s done a really good job with those guys.”
The winner of Northern Vance-Cedar Ridge on Monday night advances to face Orange in the Big 8 Conference semifinals on Wednesday night in Hillsborugh.
CEDAR RIDGE 51, ROXBORO COMMUNITY 48
CEDAR RIDGE–Dmonte Kinney 2, Khalil Barnett 7, Terrence Crawford 7, Khalil Hill 4, Colby Cashaw 18, Mekai Collins 11, John Vaughn 2.
ROXBORO COMMUNITY–Tajarrell Wright-Young 8, Te’Shon Clayton 7, Dylan Jones 14, Spencer Blalock 8, J.R. Paylor 4,