By JOHN LUCAS
For The Record
The Tri-County Six 3-A Conference boys’ basketball tournament championship at Campbell tomorrow will be an all-Lee County affair, as Harnett Central fell to Lee County and Triton fell to Southern Lee in the semifinals at Southern Lee Tuesday.
Cold offense through the first three quarters led to Harnett Central losing 66-49 to Lee County in the first game of the night.
“I think it would be an understatement to say our intensity was not what it was last night (in a 65-46 win over Union Pines),” said Harnett Central coach Will Gage. “I hope a lot of it was due to a short layover from last night. But we’ve got to bring ourselves back up. We can’t let this game be indicative of the type of season we’ve had and the quality team we’ve had. We’ve just got to bounce back.”
A pair of seniors led the Trojans (14-10). Kaizer Ray had 15 points and Adam Jackson had 11 points.
Also for Central, Kasey Perkins had nine points, Jalaan Signal had eight and Chase Mullins had six.
Santavious Patterson paced the Yellow Jackets (10-13) with 22 points.
Despite struggling offensively, Central stayed close with Lee during the first half, trailing 24-19 at halftime.
But after Ray scored to cut the lead to 24-21 to start the third quarter, Lee went on a 14-4 run to fully take control of the game.
Central’s offense picked up in the fourth, but the Trojans could not overcome the deficit.
“We were down 20 and easily could have laid down and lost by 30,” Gage said. “But we battled back and, I think, cut it to 11. That’s a credit to our guys.”
In the second game of the night, Triton was unable to recover from Southern Lee’s hot start, as the Cavaliers won 66-44.
“Just a disappointing effort, after the way we played last night (in a 68-52 win over Western Harnett),” said Triton coach T.J. Morrison. “I thought we played Triton basketball last night. Tonight just wasn’t our night. We didn’t defend well. We couldn’t score the ball. We just didn’t look like ourselves.”
Shi’qaun Cox had 14 points and Maurice Williams had 12 to lead the Hawks (14-12).
Chrishaun Henry had seven points, Christion Green and Travion Sanders had four points apiece and Kalil Hodges had three points apiece.
Phillip Martin had 21 points and Octavious Flack had 17 to lead the Cavaliers (21-3).
Southern Lee opened the game by going on a 20-3 run through the first quarter and led by double digits the rest of the way.
Harnett Central and Triton are both projected to receive bids to the NCHSAA 3-A state playoffs, but will have to wait until the brackets are released on Saturday to learn their postseason fates.