East boys stun Spartans

Central Davidson’s John Hanes attempts a shot that would have given the Spartans the lead in the closing seconds against East Davidson on Friday. (Photo by Mike Duprez/The Dispatch)

THOMASVILLE | That celebration Central Davidson was going to have for winning the Central Carolina Conference championship is going to have to wait until at least Tuesday.

Some other guys were doing the celebrating Friday night.

Matt Johnson led the way with 16 points as East Davidson stunned Central 45-42, winning for the fifth time in six games after an awful start to the season and snapping the Spartans’ 15-game winning streak.

East, 7-14 overall, improved to 5-3 in the CCC and stand alone in second place. The Eagles, who were 2-13 overall and 0-3 in the CCC at one point, are mathematically alive to tie Central (17-3 overall, 7-1 CCC) for the CCC championship, something would have seemed unthinkable two weeks ago.

“We’ve got great coaches,” Johnson said. “They believe in us and we believe in what we’re doing.”

And that emanated from the man in charge.

“I don’t know, man,” said East coach Matt Jacobs. “We’ve got great kids and I think we’re just focused. We had no doubt at any point that we weren’t going to lose the game. We’re just finding a way now. Our goals at the beginning of the season were to finish in the top three in the conference and win a playoff game. We’re in a pretty good position now.”

Taylor Booze scored 10 points and Adam Davis nine — on three 3-pointers — as the Eagles were able to hold off Central in a rugged fourth quarter with few points, few fouls and plenty of no-calls.

Booze, off a nice feed from Johnson, hit a layup to give East the lead for good at 40-39 with 6:44 left in the game. Davis drilled a 3-pointer with 4:40 left, making it 43-39.

The Spartans had a chance to tie it with 2:29 left when Chris Pompey, who led Central with 14 points, scored in the paint and drew a foul from Booze. But Pompey missed the free throw.

What followed was a flurry of action without points. East’s Josh Craven missed a breakaway layup with less than 30 seconds left, opening the door for the Spartans one last time. But Will Ramsey missed a 3-pointer and in the midst of a scrum, Central got off four more attempts to no avail.

“They played us tough,” said Central coach Brian Hege. “We got fouled in the end. Which one? About five times. But they (East) played well. I can’t take anything away from them. They executed when they needed to and we didn’t execute. It came down to us not finishing.”

The Spartans led 29-25 at halftime and were up by as much as seven points in the third quarter. John Hanes had 11 points for the Spartans.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or mike.duprez@the-dispatch.com.