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Masked Mustangs make more March Madness

MONCURE — A tight one at halftime Saturday morning inside Moncure School, Margaret B. Pollard coach Harold Baldwin loosed his Mustangs in the final frames to fuel a 50-40 win over the Horton Wildcats, clinching the title in the 2021 Chatham County Schools Middle School Basketball Tournament.

“We decided to go ahead and switch up from the 3-2 zone into a man-to-man, and we turned up the pressure,” Baldwin said. “They were hitting some good outside shots. We decided we’ll go man to keep them from hitting those shots outside.”

Handling Horton twins Mikaylah and Shaylah Glover with solid box-outs was a priority, Baldwin said. 

“It’s hard to control them,” Baldwin said. “They’re two good athletic young ladies, and they’re going to be something to reckon with next year.”

The twins are long and imposing. Shaylah finished the game with 12 points; Mikaylah had 6.

Neah Henry led Horton with 15 points, including three of those 3-pointers that bothered Baldwin’s bunch in the first half.  

“My girls just got tired,” Horton coach Wanda Bland said. “They gassed out, especially my big girls. 

“I tried to give them a break, but it just wasn’t enough.”

Pollard’s Gabby White led all scorers with 18 points. The Mustangs got 16 points out of Sidney Ballard. 

Cheerleaders turn up volume, unmute quiet gym

Horton Wildcats cheerleaders

MONCURE — Two, four, six, eight; clap those hands and appreciate the cheerleaders who — just like the ballplayers — are navigating COVID-19, waving their pompoms during this pandemic.

The Horton Middle School cheerleaders lifted their voices inside the gym at Moncure School on Saturday to spur both their girls’ and boys’ basketball teams during the 2021 Chatham County Schools Middle School Basketball Tournament. Margaret B. Pollard Middle School beat Horton’s girls in the championship game. Horton’s boys topped J.S. Waters School for the title. 

J.S. Waters went down scrapping, the Cubs’ cheerleaders — coached by Sherry Warf — offering as much extra oomph as they could. 

As tough as this season was on players hooping with no fans in the stands due to COVID-19 restrictions, the cheerleaders were in those same gyms, their rah-rah-rahs richocheting off empty bleachers.

“We do have to scream a lot more since it is quieter since there’s no one in the stands. So it has been harder to cheer,” Horton cheerleader Madison Creech said. 

This was Ebony Scurlock’s first season coaching Horton’s cheerleaders.  

“I see great potential in all of them, and I just hope they can do the best in their life,” Scurlock said. 

Horton’s cheerleaders said Scurlock has this way of being firm and funny all at the same time. 

“She pushes us a lot to get our goals, and it’s really good,” Horton cheerleader Yareni Delgadillo Delgado said. 

Wildcats outlast Cubs, lift monkey off coach’s back

Horton Wildcats

MONCURE —  Nip and tuck till roughly the last 30 seconds of the game when the Horton Wildcats were able to seal it with a few free throws and beat the J.S. Waters Cubs 51-46 in the 2021 Chatham County Schools Middle School Basketball Tournament at Moncure School on Saturday. 

It was the sixth time Horton coach Adrian Scurlock had the Wildcats in the championship game. He finally walked out of the gym with the title. Not a bad ending for a guy who was iffy about coaching this season. Not wanting to leave Horton Principal Bradyn Robinson looking for a coach in the middle of a pandemic, Scurlock geared up for one more run.

“Mr. Robinson asked would I just do it again,” Scurlock said.  

Boy, did he do it!

Horton was up 41-40 with 2:48 left in the game when Scurlock called a timeout.  

“Control the game,” Scurlock recalled telling his guys in the huddle. “Don’t [commit] any turnovers, control the game and make your shots when you go to the free-throw line.”

Out of the timeout, Horton big man Chad Graves used his soft touch around the rim for a basket to extend Horton’s lead to 43-40.

J.S. Waters' Reid Albright got crafty in the paint for a basket that drew a foul with 1:16 to go. He missed the free throw that would have tied the game. 

Had fans been allowed in the stands, they would've been in there biting their nails — not exactly the most hygienic thing somebody could do to relieve stress during a pandemic.

The Cubs went into foul mode to preserve the clock. The hacks sent Isaiah Blair and Hayes Burleson to the charity stripe, and they made good on the freebies. 

J.S. Waters assistant coach Aedrin Albright actually was the head coach in this one. A civics teacher at Chatham Central High School, she was coaching as if impeachment was the fate for whomever came up short during title time. 

The difference in the ballgame was the Wildcats clawing so hard on the offensive glass, allowing second-chance shots, Albright said.

“Their 3-point shooters hurt us the first half, so we had to adjust to that. That’s why we went to man,” Albright said. “I second guess myself now thinking maybe we should have [gone] to man in the first half. The problem with that is we have seven players, and being man-to-man full court the whole game can wear their legs out. 

“They just made more shots than we did.”

Burleson led Horton with 19 points. Blair scored 13. Graves gave the Wildcats 11 points.

The Cubs got 19 points from Albright and 14 from Luke Gaines.

Published April 20, 2021