Prep basketball: Season comes with highlights for area teams

Uwharrie Charter Academy’s Alijah Barker shoots the ball against Albemarle’s Walker Wilkins in the first round of the Class 1-A state playoffs Feb. 22 at Uwharrie Charter Academy in Asheboro.

Basketball season came to a close for Randolph County boys’ teams in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association by the end of the second round last week.

On the girls’ side, only Randleman and Uwharrie Charter Academy made it to the weekend’s third round. Randleman’s season was still going this week.

Here are a few notables as the postseason unfolded:

Patriots tripped by familiar foe

Providence Grove’s boys’ season-ending 61-58 loss in the opening round of the Class 2-A state playoffs to Southwestern Randolph came after the Patriots posted nine- and three-point victories against the Cougars during the regular season.

Providence Grove made significant progress this season, winning the Piedmont Athletic Conference regular season and ending up with an 18-9 record. That’s believed to be the most wins in school history for the program.

It marked only the fifth recorded winning record for the Providence Grove boys’ program. And one of those was in the abbreviated 2021 season with an 8-6 record.

The Providence Grove accomplishments included a first outright conference regular-season championship and a first appearance in a league tournament final. The Patriots also played a home playoff game for the first time since 2010.

Blue Comets show progress

Asheboro’s boys seemed to have it rolling at the right time. So it was an abrupt conclusion for the Blue Comets when a seven-game winning streak ended in the first round of the Class 3-A state playoffs with a 68-51 home loss to North Lincoln.

It was the Blue Comets’ fifth-lowest scoring game of the season – and they had won two of the other four when failing to reach 50 points.

Still, coach Brian Nance’s team finished with a 19-8 mark. Part of the success came by winning the Mid-Piedmont Conference Tournament.

That was Asheboro’s most wins since a 22-5 record in 2015-16. That season, the Blue Comets won twice in the state playoffs.

Big moments for UCA

The Uwharrie Charter Academy boys churned out some special memories in the postseason, including winning the PAC Tournament title. They kept the momentum going for a bit in the Class 1-A state playoffs.

Ashton Troutman of UCA finished his junior season with an impressive run in the postseason. He tallied 27 points in the Eagles’ 63-51 first-round victory against Albemarle, then followed that by posting half of UCA’s points in the second round, collecting 22 points in a 67-44 loss to North Rowan.

On the girls’ side, UCA played three home games in the Class 1-A playoffs, starting with a 54-38 defeat of Bradford Prep. That was followed by a 58-56 decision against Swain County as Ashara Spruill totaled 23 points.

Spruill had 12 points in the third round, but it wasn’t enough and the Eagles fell 42-36 to Starmount.

Seeds for thought

In both the PAC and Mid-Piedmont Conference, the No. 2 seeds failed to reach the finals in both the boys’ and girls’ league tournaments. The Nos. 3 seeds in those cases played in the title games.

By Bob Sutton