WENDELL — Corinth Holders came up short in its bid for a double in the Northern Carolina 2A Conference.
The Pirates, the league’s regular-season champion, ran into a buzz saw in the tournament finals on Friday night, losing 66-49 to Bunn. The Wildcats came out running and never slowed down to win their second straight tournament title.
“We knew we had to get off to a good start because they have a great five and they can all score and it’s on their home court,” Bunn coach Gerald Melton said. “We knew if we didn’t come out and set the tone early, it could be a struggle.”
The Wildcats jumped to a 12-2 lead. After Corinth Holders trimmed the lead to 14-10, the Wildcats scored the final seven points of the first quarter – getting a 65-foot shot at the buzzer from Tavon Perry to lead 21-10.
Bunn (20-6) led 40-21 at halftime and held the advantage in the second half to defeat Corinth Holders for the second straight season in the finals.
Corinth Holders (22-3), which split with Bunn in the regular season and finished 13-1 in the league, could not match the Wildcats’ physical play, Pirates coach Chris Davis said.
“Their effort on the defensive end of the floor was a lot different than it was earlier in the season,” Davis said of Bunn. “This tonight was a good example of the physicality that you have in playoff basketball. They were a little more physical than we were. We were wanting calls instead of understanding that your effort and hard work get you calls.”
Brandon Batchelor led the Wildcats with 14 points. Deshawn High added 13, Jonathan Alston 11 and Perry 10.
Corinth Holders, which split with the Wildcats in the regular season and went 13-1 in the league, was led by Kahlil Larry and Kiyon Walden with 14 points each.
Corinth Holders struggled from the outside, making just one 3-pointer all night. That came in the final minute when Kenneth Collins knocked in a long 3 with 20 seconds left.
“We came out tonight and just weren’t making any shots,” Davis said. “Not just outside shots. We were missing shots in transition. And as hot as they were playing, we needed to make those transition baskets to stay even. We didn’t do that early and that is what made the deficit.”
Corinth Holders, a third-year school, is in the playoffs for the third straight season. The Pirates would have be the No. 1 seed in the region with a victory against Bunn. But Davis hoped the loss would serve as motivation.
“This was a good reminder,” Davis said. “We’ve just got to change our mindset. I told them in the locker room tonight, ‘Being a man is not how you act. It’s how you react.’ So we have got to react the proper way to what happened on the floor going forward.”