The second-seeded J.I. Burton Raiders used a solid defensive effort in the second half to take a 47-38 win over the upset-minded Rye Cove Eagles, while top seed Eastside grabbed a 91-45 victory over the Thomas Walker Pioneers.
Rye Cove (5-17) battled the Raiders tough in the first half and trailed Burton by a slim 18-15 margin at halftime.
The game stayed close through most of the second half with Burton’s pressure defense proving to be the biggest difference. The Raiders (15-7) took advantage of 23 Rye Cove turnovers, scoring 24 points off of the miscues, with most of them coming off the transition game in the final quarter.
“In the second half, we were able to generate some offense off of our defense,” said Burton coach Aaron Williams. “
Burton’s Brady Adams contributed most of the offense off the transition late in the game. The junior scored a game-high 18 points, with eight of them coming in the fourth quarter.
“For us, Brady is somebody we prefer to have playing on a wing because we feel like he gets more shot opportunities from the wing. But we sometimes play him at the point, and that’s what we did for most of the game tonight,” said Williams.
Adams said playing a complete game was a key in the Raiders’ win.
“Coach always tells us to play through the whole game, and I think tonight was the first time we’ve really done that. We just kept playing in the fourth quarter,” said Adams.
Despite its turnover woes, Rye Cove kept the game close and cut the Raiders’ lead to 40-35 on a 3-point shot from Chase Love with 2:31 left in the contest. But that was as close as the Eagles would get. A basket from Adams with 35 seconds left put the Raiders up 44-35 and sealed the win.
Houston Thacker added 10 points for Burton. Love led Rye Cove’s scorers with 18 points, while Holton Carter finished with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds.
While the first semifinal game was close, the second one was not. Eastside (17-6) never trailed and built a 34-17 first quarter lead on the way to a big victory.
All nine players on the Eastside roster scored in the game, with four hitting double figures.
Ethan Powers finished with 20 points, while Seth Boles added 16, Colyn Sturgill finished with 15 and Luke Lawson scored 14.
Thomas Walker got 16 points from Taylor Williams and 12 from Austin Williams.