DENVER — The Lake Norman Charter Knights boys varsity basketball team broke a 33-33 tie with the East Lincoln Mustangs early in the fourth quarter and outscored the Mustangs 14-7 down the stretch to take a 47-40 win in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference tournament championship game on Friday.
Lake Norman Charter senior Davis Elkins made a layup and a free throw to knot the score at 33-33 and a field goal by Malik McCormick put the Knights ahead for good with 3:40 left in the fourth.
East Lincoln freshman Desmond Griffith cut the Knights’ lead to 35-34 with a free throw but Lake Norman Charter scored four unanswered points before East Lincoln freshman Chazz Surratt found a lane through the defense for a layup with 1:24 left in the game.
The Knights added four more points on free throws before East Lincoln sophomore Christian Tyson-Bryant pulled in an offensive rebound and made a layup with 20 seconds left to cut Lake Norman Charter’s lead to 43-38.
Griffith added two free throws for East Lincoln (19-7, 10-4) with 11 seconds left but the Mustangs were unable to pick up any conversions on defense and the Knights closed out the game with four free throws in the final nine seconds.
The Mustangs now face the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A state playoffs and a first-round rematch with North Lincoln today in Denver. The teams have met twice in the last two weeks, and both were East Lincoln victories — 52-41 on Feb. 15 and 66-53 on Feb. 18. The Mustangs beat North Lincoln a month earlier, 67-53 on Jan. 18.
East Lincoln senior Tyler Brock led the Mustangs in scoring on Friday with 10 points. Surratt scored eight and junior Charlie Hills added seven points.
McCormick led the regular-season champion Knights (22-4, 13-1) with 11 points.
The Mustangs trailed early and went down 8-2 with 2:16 left in the first quarter. Lake Norman Charter senior Jamon Cunningham hit a 3-pointer before Hills made a layup for East Lincoln at the buzzer.
East Lincoln made up the difference in the second quarter, outscoring the Knights 14-8 to face a 19-18 halftime deficit.
East Lincoln’s Domonique Smith landed a 3-pointer two minutes into the second quarter to bring the Mustangs to within four points of the Knights, 11-7. Lake Norman Charter went on a 6-1 run before Brock contributed six points in an 8-0 run by the Mustangs.
McCormick banked in a field goal before Hills added another last-second layup to cut Lake Norman Charter’s lead to 19-18 at the break.
East Lincoln outscored Lake Norman Charter 12-8 in the third quarter to take a 30-27 lead at the end of the period. Tyson-Bryant scored off a rebound and Surratt made a 3-pointer and a short jumper to open the period with a 7-0 run that lasted until the 4:48 mark and gave the Mustangs a 25-19 lead. Nick Worthy made a 3-pointer and a layup, around a free throw by Hills, to cut the Mustangs lead to 26-24.