HILLSBOROUGH – J.D. Brooks and Tay Jones were a dynamic duo Friday night, powering the Orange High boys basketball team to an 86-78 defeat of Eastern Alamance in the third round of the 3A NCHSAA state playoffs.
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Brooks scored 21 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, while Jones added 13 points and five steals in an energetic effort as the Panthers advanced to the sectional finals Wednesday night in Fayetteville against No. 5 seed West Brunswick.
As good as Brooks and Keegan Crabtree (22 points before fouling out late) were for the Panthers, Orange coach Greg Motley said Jones keyed the win.
“Tay pushed himself beyond his limits,” Motley said. “He earned the game ball tonight.”
Perhaps that’s because he was so willing to sacrifice his body with a scrappy defensive effort that helped the Panthers hold off an Eagles squad led by Lamont Robinson’s 28 points.
The Mt. St. Mary’s bound guard was terrific as usual in keeping the Eagles in striking distance throughout with an array of baskets. When he fouled out on a reach-in with just more than four minutes left; Eastern Alamance’s chances were seriously damaged, however.
Jones saw to that with a slam dunk and a pair of free throws, while Brooks followed up his own miss at the charity stripe with a slam dunk to make it 80-75 with just less than two minutes remaining.
The Eagles were doomed thanks to some late turnovers and awful shooting behind the arc (4 of 31), while the Panthers were a more efficient 6 of 13.
Orange stormed out to a 16-4 lead midway through the first quarter, though Eastern Alamance closed out the stanza with an 11-5 run to make it 21-15.
Malcolm Summers got the Mebane-area squad within a hoop at 29-27 with a slam dunk in the second quarter. The Panthers quickly roared back to build a double-digit advantage as Crabtree took over offensively.
Brooks and Jones also keyed a third quarter run with consecutive slam dunks as Orange built a 70-55 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Jones said a raucous home crowd helped Orange throughout the contest.
“I was focused and hyped, it was the crowd,” Jones said. “I also love playing with all my teammates.”
2014 NCHSAA State Playoffs
3A Boys’ Bracket