By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Before The Burlington School boys’ basketball team embarks on trying to win another state championship, the Spartans had a closer-to-home matter to settle.
Who was best in Burlington among the two North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association teams?
That took most of Friday night’s game to sort out.
TBS visited Burlington Christian Academy in this showdown to end the regular season, with the Spartans scoring the final 10 points for a 50-40 victory in front of a full gym of onlookers.
“(People) were talking about it for weeks,” TBS guard Cam Flippen said. “It was what we expected. We found a way to finish the game.”
Devin Sims scored a tiebreaking basket in the low post and the Spartans held BCA scoreless for the final four minutes.
Until then, TBS (22-12) couldn’t shake free from the Royals (19-6). But the Spartans weren’t planning on leaving without a victory.
“I was just thinking about winning,” said TBS guard Zion Walker, who had 18 points.
Flippen’s basket on a fastbreak stretched the lead to 44-40 with less than two minutes remaining. He added a free throw with 40.7 seconds to play for his ninth point of the night and Walker scored the game’s last five points.
“We did an excellent job battling the last four minutes,” TBS coach George Marshall said.
BCA received 16 points from Ian Bush.
“I think we proved we could play with anybody in the state,” Royals coach Eric Dudley said. “Games like this take a lot out of you. It’s a good game to prepare you going into the state playoffs.”
Flippen said keeping composure was necessary as the crowd’s volume increased. Former players from both schools were on hand, while Elon University coach Billy Taylor had a front-row seat.
“A lot happened. It was a hectic game,” Bush said. “This is going to make us better, but they got the bragging rights.”
It was far from smooth. TBS committed 20 turnovers and the Royals had 18 giveaways – so both teams had more turnovers than field goals.
BCA’s Karon Watlington drained two 3-pointers in the first quarter, but the Royals didn’t connect again from beyond the arc.
“We went cold,” Dudley said.
Yet BCA’s defense had the Spartans out of sorts.
“We have to look at how we share the ball,” Marshall said. “There were a gathering of errors we were able to overcome. We’ve got a lot to fix.”
Dudley said much of BCA’s defensive approach played out well.
“We thought we could throw different defenses at them,” Dudley said. “We gave up too many transition points.”
At the other end, BCA center Charles Chienggen Pur was rebuffed numerous times by the shot blocking and resistance of Kaden Hammond’s defense.
This was the first meeting between the teams in two years. TBS improved to 12-0 all-time vs. the Royals, but Friday night’s game had the closest margin of any matchup between the teams.
• A night earlier, BCA drilled visiting Union Grove Christian 82-37. Also on Thursday night, TBS rolled past Central Carolina Prep 66-47 with Walker posting 16 points and 11 rebounds and Ty Outlaw adding 11 points and 12 rebounds.