TROY — Anytime a high school sports team accomplishes something that hasn’t been done in 50 years, it’s a very special season.
The Asheboro High School boys varsity basketball team put the finishing touches on an undefeated Mid-Piedmont Conference season with a resounding 70-42 victory over Montgomery Central Friday night that left the Blue Comets a perfect 10-0 in league play.
It is the first time veteran coach Brian Nance can remember an AHS team finishing the conference season unbeaten since the mid-1970s.
“It’s a big deal,” Nance said after the Blue Comets became the first team to finish unbeaten in a league season since Asheboro won the Western North Carolina state championship in 1976. “It’s something to be proud of.”
After a tough 49-37 win over Ledford on Feb. 7, AHS entered the final game of the regular season looking for a bit of history.
“Coach Green (Associate Head Coach Erie Green) and I just challenged them to finish 10-0,” Nance said. “He’s been telling them you don’t have this opportunity many times. You have to take advantage of it and they did. They came out and played hard on the road.”
There wasn’t a lot of celebrating on the court after the final buzzer, but the players certainly realized what they had done.
“After the Ledford game, we kind of told ourselves we can’t play down to our opponent and let’s make history,” junior Camden Walker said, referring to the Blue Comets being a perfect 9-0 while Montgomery Central was 0-9 entering the contest. “It’s a surreal thing. I’m really proud of the guys.”
With Walker pumping in 16 points, including four 3-pointers, Jerquarious Stanback adding 12 points and double-digit rebounds, Tanner Marsh igniting the offense with 11 fast-break points and Hakeeme Butler chipping in 10 points, the Blue Comets broke away from a 14-11 lead after one quarter to make it 36-19 at halftime and 55-23 after three quarters.
“That's been in my mind all day,” said Stanback, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. “We all have been thinking about making history all day. We came out a little slow, but turned it up at the end.
“It blows my mind. I thought a couple of other teams could have done it, but things happen. We have a good group of guys and can do a lot of things other teams can’t do.”
The victory over the Timberwolves was the 11th straight for the Blue Comets and this season marks the first outright conference championship since the 2015-16 season. It also boosted AHS’ overall record to 19-4 heading into tonight’s (Feb. 15) MPC Tournament semifinal at Ledford High School.
“It means a lot to me because I have seen the work put in during the offseason and even during the season as well, so it means a lot to get this undefeated season,” senior guard Darius Headen said. “We always thought we’d be the best team and we kept working together to make it happen. This was very important. It shows the work we did all year long.”
The Blue Comets have won using different styles. They have been able to run out on opponents, recording five wins by scoring at least 70 points and one by scoring 80. But they have also won with defense, defeating Ledford 49-37, Central Davidson 50-47 and North Davidson 55-49.
“This is a great way to finish the season off,” said Butler, a senior. “We all grew up together, playing together. It’s a big thing to go 10-0 in the conference. A lot of teams can’t do that.
“We love on each other when we’re right and we get on each other when we're not. We have great chemistry. ”
Marsh has been a spark plug for the Blue Comets. The senior guard, who admits he’s not a top offensive option, still gives the team plenty as his hawking defense leads to steals and fastbreak opportunities for himself and the team. And teams can’t forget about him as he certainly has the capability to be a double-digit scorer.
“It’s a great feeling being my senior year and playing with my boys, my best friends, and I didn’t want to do this with anyone else, and now that we did it, it is great,” Marsh said. “This is my last year playing for Coach Nance and Coach Green and I wanted to come out with a bang.”
Quite a bang it was.