By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
[Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since it was first posted on Saturday night.]
There came a point in the season that the pieces started to fit into place for The Burlington School boys’ basketball team.
The timing turned out just about right.
“I felt like we had ups and downs, but we got it done,” junior guard Zion Walker said. “When the playoffs came around, we played together.”
TBS made it three state championships in a row by defeating Greenfield School 78-65 in Saturday afternoon’s North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association Class 2-A final at Forsyth Country Day School in Lewisville.
“Amazing week,” first-year coach George Marshall said. “It was a great cumulating experience by finishing the way we did.”
Part of the realization for the team came from what Marshall said was a determination “to keep this legacy going.”
So it was a process.
“It feels good with a new set of coaches and a new set of players,” said Walker, who contributed to the 2021 title team and has been a two-year starter since then.
The Spartans began the season with a 12-3 record. There were rough patches with injuries and stiff competition as they appeared in a couple of high-profile events, playing in the John Wall Holiday Invitational in Raleigh in December and the Quincy Shootout in Illinois in January.
“Midway through the season, I don’t think we really knew what we were playing for,” Marshall said. “We started to understand if we can come together and support each other that we could be this type of team.”
In the championship game, Walker led TBS (23-15) with 23 points. He was 16-for-18 on free throws.
The Spartans built a 36-22 halftime lead and entered the fourth quarter with a 49-35 edge.
During the second quarter, TBS gained momentum and that turned into some of the best execution that Marshall had seen from his team this season.
“It was about how we imposed our will in the first part of that game,” he said. “Most importantly on defense, keeping them away from the basket and dominating on the boards.”
Josh Randolph’s 14 points, Jordan Durham’s 12 points, Steven Lassiter’s 10 points and Kaden Hammond’s nine points contributed to the Spartans’ title-game scoring balance. Greenfield School (29-11) made 10 baskets from 3-point range.
Last Thursday night, the Spartans grinded out a 53-49 victory against visiting Gaston Day School in the semifinals. Gaston Day School finished 18-10.
So then it was on to another title game for TBS, which produced a 68-64 road victory at Greenfield School on January 16 in Wilson. Marshall, who arrived at TBS after coaching at Henderson Collegiate, said he has long respected Greenfield School’s tradition on the basketball court.
Yet by the final days of this season, the Spartans might have had something going for them.
“I felt very good about going into the championship game because I knew how hard our guys had worked,” Marshall said.
Western girls fall
In the North Carolina High School Athletic Association at Fayetteville, Western Alamance’s season ended in girls’ basketball with Saturday afternoon’s 59-46 loss at fourth-seeded Cape Fear in the third round of the Class 3-A state playoffs.
The Warriors (21-9), the East Region’s No. 12 seed, trailed 28-22 at halftime after falling into an 11-point hole. The Warriors were within 34-30 before Cape Fear finished the third quarter on a 12-5 spurt.
Western knocked off defending state champion Northwood in overtime Thursday night.