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The Asheboro boys team poses with its Mid-Piedmont Conference championship hardware.     Photo: Jill Alison

Comets rout Spartans for tourney title

ASHEBORO — Finishing.


The Asheboro High School varsity boys basketball team didn’t finish when they played Central Davidson in two regular-season Mid-Piedmont Conference games. Two late-game leads disappeared and the Spartans were the ones to claim the MPC regular-season title.


But in the MPC Tournament championship game on Friday at Martin Smith Gymnasium, the Blue Comets finished. Of course, it helps to jump out to an 18-point lead after the first quarter as AHS rode that early onslaught for a 61-46 victory and the MCP Tournament title.


The Blue Comets took a 22-3 record into Tuesday night’s first-round playoff game, representing the most wins AHS has earned in one season under head coach Brian Nance.


“We wanted to go inside early and we did and they had to adjust to it and we were able to knock down some long-range shots to extend the lead,” Nance said after the Blue Comets celebrated their second MPC Tournament title in the past three years. “That big start was the difference in the game because we were able to maintain that separation throughout.”


With Jalial Timmons hitting two early 3-pointers, Jerquarius Stanback adding eight first-quarter points and Cam Walker scoring five, the Blue Comets bolted into a 23-5 lead after one quarter.


AHS made things very difficult for the Spartans, who couldn't find room to operate offensively early on.


“Our defense in the first quarter was really outstanding, off the charts,” Nance said. “One shot and done, getting the rebound and taking advantage.”


Defense was emphasized prior to the game.


“When we first came out, it was defense,” said Stanback, who scored 23 points after pouring in 39 in a 60-47 semifinal win over North Davidson the night before. “Without our defense, we don’t win games. The reason we lost those games were because of mistakes on defense.”


There were very few mistakes on defense in the title win. Elijah Woodle, Amari Godwin, Osiris Rodriguez and Cooper Stallings all helped keep the long-distance shooting of CD at bay until the game was well in hand.


“We definitely tried to come out and play defense, the last two times it didn’t come out in our favor,” said Walker, who scored 16 points. “We were stepping out to the three-point line and making sure they didn’t get any good looks.”


The Blue Comets led 35-19 at the break and 46-32 entering the final quarter. CD, which slipped to 24-2 after seeing an 11-game win streak snapped, closed to within 11 in the second half, but never got closer.


“I thought they did well playing with the lead,” Nance said. “There have been times when we didn’t play well with the lead. Here I thought we did a much better job of handling their run. We did a lot better tonight.”


Timmons and Woodle each had 8 points for AHS.