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WINSTON-SALEM – Greenfield started playing defense and making shots, and it was more than enough to propel it into the state championship.
The second-seeded Knights overwhelmed No. 3 The Burlington School on both ends during the second half — nearly tripling its scoring — and rolled to a 65-37 victory in the semifinals of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 1-A boys basketball playoffs Friday at Calvary Day.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Greenfield coach Rob Salter said. “We showed so much toughness, and our defense — we probably saved our best defensive effort of the year for tonight.
“They’re an extremely well-coached team, and they run their stuff so well. We were talking, communicating and making it tough for them. We were everywhere defensively, and I’m just proud of them. Defense won the game out there.”
Senior point guard Coby White scored 30 points — including 11 points in each of the third and fourth quarters — to lead the Knights (25-9), who will face top-seeded Trinity Christian in the championship game tonight at 8 at Forsyth Country Day.
Senior Elijah McCadden added 19 points while sophomores Dji Bailey and Trey Pittman each followed with seven points, as Greenfield — which led 27-24 at halftime — outscored the Spartans, the reigning state champions, 38-13 in the second half.
“It’s definitely a good win, a hard win,” said White, whose future head coach, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, was in attendance. “We played excellent. In the second half, we came out in the first three minutes and got the job done. We held them to four points in the third quarter, so our defense was a big part of the win. ...
“I just realized I had to find a way to put the ball in the basket. I had to see it go through the basket one time, and Coach Salter challenged me at halftime and said, ‘Second half, you’ve got to pick it up. You and Elijah have carried us this far; you’ve got to continue to carry us.’ I just told myself, ‘I’ve got to get to the basket.’ And once I started doing that, I just felt like I was getting there at will.”
Sparked by a spinning layup as time ticked away in the first half, White, often scoring in heavy traffic, opened the second-half scoring to start a 7-0 spurt to give Greenfield a 34-24 lead with 6:00 left in the third.
White later scored nine points in a row to close the quarter with the Knights ahead 46-28 and added six of his team’s eight straight to start the fourth as Greenfield led 56-28 with 5:29 left in the game.
Its lead peaked at 31 with 3:21 left, and the Knights — who are in the finals for the first time since 2014 and seek their first title since 2006 — subbed in the final minutes and cruised the rest of the way.
“Trey Pittman was terrific tonight,” Salter said of his team’s overall performance. “He dove on the floor I think three times in the first half, and Bryson (Baker) – it was just a complete team effort. Our guys were locked in. We were determined. We wanted to get to the last game. And they left it all on the floor.
“We felt like we had the team that could do it. We’ve got terrific leadership that we’ve leaned on all year. These seniors deserve it — all these guys deserve it. I told them, ‘All the situations we’ve been in have prepared us for this.’ It means the world because they want it so bad. And we’re here.”
Josiah Jeffers scored 13 points to lead The Burlington School (22-4), while Makiah Fox followed with 12 points.
THE BURLINGTON SCHOOL (37)
Jeffers 13, Fox 12, Elliott 6, Ji. Michael 2, Ja. Michael 2, Walden 2
White 30, McCadden 19, Bailey 7, Pittman 7, Baker 2
Score by quarters: