It’s already customary to think that Coleman Cloer can’t do much to surprise a spectator or fans.
Until you look at the record books.
In just his 45th game, Cloer surpassed the 1,000 point barrier on Tuesday night. It just happened to help Orange win its first state playoff game since 2017.
Cloer finished with 38 points in Orange’s 85-62 win over Currituck County at Panther Gymnasium in the opening round of the 3A State Men’s Basketball Playoffs. He is Orange’s first 1,000 point scorer since Jerec Thompson did it in 2022. Cloer needed 33 points to reach 1,000. As the Panthers pulled away from the Knights in the 4th quarter, Cloer looked over to Orange’s scorers table, where he friends held up fingers to signal how many points he had to go.
He wanted to make the milestone basket something special. Just like Babe Ruth calling his shot at Wrigley Field in the 1932 World Series or Michael Jordan shrugging his shoulders making six 3-pointers in the first half against Portland in the 1992 NBA Finals. So when he got to 999 points, Cloer peeked over to see his friends holding up one index finger.
Cloer pulled up from 25 feet.
It sent the Orange crowd wild and the bench into hysteria. Cloer became the first Orange sophomore to score 1,000 points.
It’s believed that Eric English, who graduated in 1985, holds the school record. English didn’t surpass 2,000 points, according to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association record book. English only played three years because Orange didn’t add 9th grade until 1987, which was also the year the 3-point line was added in North Carolina high school basketball.
On the other hand, Cloer missed the first eight games of this year with a sprained ankle.
Orange (16-11), the 10th-seed in the 3A East Region, will travel to Rocky Mount to face the Northern Nash Knights on Friday night. Northern Nash, the champions of the Big East Conference, defeated West Brunswick 87-50.
Orange’s last playoff win came against Triton on February 25, 2017 in the 3rd round of the 3A State Playoffs.
Junior guard Xandrell Pennix scored 15 points in the second half and finished with 21. The Panthers shot 55% from the field to build a 25-point lead in the second half.
The Knights (15-11) wouldn’t go away easily. Despite being heavily undersized, Currituck still managed to outrebound Orange 48-36, including 24 offensive rebounds. But the Knights shot just 28% from the field. Their top scorer, Luke Morgan, was held to ten points on 4-of-20 shooting. Jamie Dance, who averages 12.5 points per game, finished 1-of-12 from the field for eight points.
In the opening quarter, Orange sophomore guard Kai Wade aggressively drove the ball to the basket for an early 3-point play as he was fouled by Damon Duke. Orange center Mason Robinson, who finished with a single-game high of eight blocked shots, rejected a lay-up by Morgan to trigger a transition lay-in for Freddie Sneed to pull Orange ahead 9-5.
Wade finished with eleven points, six assists and five rebounds.
Consecutive 3-pointers from Morgan and Malcolm Cowell evened the game at 13-13 with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter. Robinson flushed down an ally-oop pass from Cloer to pull the Panthers back ahead, starting a 10-0 Orange run. Cloer scored off a feed from Sneed, then ended the quarter with a breakway dunk supplied by Pennix.
Orange never trailed again. They shot 7-of-9 from the field in the third quarter, including a trio of 3-pointers.
Currituck found an unlikely source of offense from senior Walter Bailey, who couldn’t stop draining shots from downtown late. Bailey, who appears to be set to become a future roadie for Luke Combs, shot 6-of-7 from 3-point range and led the Knights with 19 points. Orange already had the game in the bag by the time Bailey got hot, so even the Panthers student section started cheering for him. Bailey was fouled on a 3-point attempt with :0.6 remaining. As he attempted the free throws, the Orange students chanted “WAL-TER! WAL-TER!”