Bearcats are State Runners-Up in Hoops

Dwight Canady drives by a North Lincoln defender, in Hendersonville’s West Region superb title victory.

HendersonvilleHendersonville Bearcats finished a remarkable basketball campaign as the 2A state runner-up, after sustaining their only loss of the season in an NBA-like high score on Saturday.

Farmville Central Jaguars (15-0) set a state finals mark for points, by beating HHS (17-1) by 113-98. Hendersonville is the first team to surpass 90 points in a finals defeat, and came within a basket of reaching the century mark.

The Jags are a tall squad more like a collegiate crew or even the Globetrotters with show-off dunking. They won their third state title in a row, and fourth in the last six seasons. N.C. State-bound point guard Terquavion Smith led them with 33 points. The agile 6-3 senior made ten assists and five steals, and grabbed nine rebounds.

Coach Marvin Featherstone’s Bearcats led merely once in the entire game, but fought hard and kept the deficit in single digits at 50-42 at halftime and cut it to 15 by the final buzzer. Jags head coach Larry Williford called HHS “quick, scrappy” in a post-game interview on TV. The game was broadcast on MY40.

Dwight “The Prez” Canady led HHS with 31 points and 11 rebounds. Keenan Wilkins scored 28, and made seven steals. The sophomore made four three-pointers in a row in the third period. Canady, a junior, scored 11 and Wilkins ten as they combined for half (21) of HHS’ 42 first-half points.

Those two combined for 51 points — more than two-thirds of the team’s output, in the prior game as HHS Bearcats won the West Region over North Lincoln (15-3) 75-59 on Tuesday, March 2.

The sole senior starting guard, Carson Redden, contributed ten points, six assists and seven rebounds. Then in the finals he had 11 points, seven assists and three steals.

Center Alex Lemmens had a career night with 18 points, and also nine rebounds. HHS made 46 percent of its shots.

Farmville’s “Farm Five” as The Tribune calls them are sparked by Smith. Jah Short, a 6-4 sophomore, scored 23 points. He made two blocks in a row. He often handled the HHS press with ease.

Six-seven senior center Leontae Moye had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Moye dunked off of Smith’s pass off the backboard, in a semifinal win in which Farmville scored 113. The play aired on ESPN, topping SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays.

Canady made three HHS baskets in a row early on. His lefty trey cut the lead to 9-7, with nearly four minutes left in the opening period. After a match trey, Canady’s layup capped a fast break, for a 12-9 deficit. Lemmens drew a charge.

Redden out-hustled a Jag for a loose ball. Redden drove in, to cut the lead to 19-15. Bulky freshman Chris Landrum took a charge, and HHS got the ball back. Wilkins was fouled at the other end, and made both free throws to close to within two points.

The Cats went into their trademark fullcourt press. Wilkins tipped a pass and snatched it for a steal. He was fouled. He made both free throws, to tie the game at 19 with 15 seconds to go in the opening period. Dontavious Short’s three put the Farm Five back on top, at 22-19 at the end of one period.

HHS grabbed its first lead with 7:31 until halftime, as Canady rebounded a missed Jags shot and fed a streaking Redden in for a layup. HHS went up 23-22.

The game was hardly neutral, travel-wise. It was “farmed out” to Providence Grove High in Climax, benefiting Farmville Central which is within eight miles. Normally the nearby Greensboro Coliseum is the site. This marked the first time in 40 years a boys’ state hoops final was in a high school gym.

Since the HHS gym is being renovated, the Beacats played most home games at Hendersonville Middle including their three playoff conquests.

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