Regional path sends Eastern Randolph boys on trek

Eastern Randolph’s Nicah Taylor soars in the lane for a shot against South Stokes. (PJ. Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

RAMSEUR – Eastern Randolph will head to Morganton as part of the best season in history of the school’s boys’ basketball team.

That’s where the Wildcats will take on Bishop McGuinness in the Class 1-A West Region final at 1 p.m. Saturday. The game will be at Freedom High School.

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced the venues for the neutral-site regional finals Wednesday morning, a day after Tuesday night’s semifinals set the matchups across the state.

Third-seeded Eastern Randolph (28-2) has won nine games in a row. Fourth-seeded Bishop McGuinness (25-5) holds a 14-game winning streak.

The Class 1-A West Region boys’ final will come before the Class 1-A West Region girls’ final between Bishop McGuinness and Robbinsville.

The NCHSAA had designated potential sites in both the East Region and West Region for the regional finals, pending the locations of the participating schools. Grimsley High School in Greensboro was one of those in the West Region.

An Eastern Randolph-Bishop McGuinness would have been a good fit for the Greensboro site, but with Bishop McGuinness, a Kernersville school, also having its girls’ team playing Saturday that had to be taken into consideration.

If a school has multiple teams in late rounds of state playoffs, the NCHSAA attempts to make it feasible for fans to attend all their school’s competitions. With Robbinsville on the far western part of the state, that made Morganton the pick.

Freedom High School is 104 miles from Bishop McGuinness, 131 miles from Eastern Randolph and 144 miles from Robbinsville.

Last Saturday, Robbinsville’s girls’ and boys’ teams traveled for third-round games at Eastern Randolph.

Eastern Randolph played its first postseason road game Tuesday night with the 74-71 comeback victory against second-seeded South Stokes. Bishop McGuinness won 58-54 at top-seeded Mountain Heritage after surviving with a 65-60 overtime decision in the third round against visiting Thomasville.

The Class 2-A West Region finals were tabbed for Grimsley, with Salisbury meeting East Burke at noon in the girls’ game and Reidsville taking on Lincoln Charter in the boys’ game at 2 p.m.

The Class 1-A East Region final pits Bertie (26-4) vs. Wilson Prep (25-7) at 3 p.m. at South Johnston.

Regional winners advance to the March 11 state championship games in either Chapel Hill or Raleigh.

By Bob Sutton