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Trinity overwhelms Spartans

Central Davidson's Will Ramsey gets past Trinity's Jarrod Rogers (left) and Daniel Newcomer for a layup during their third-round 2-A state playoff game Friday at Central. (Photo by Mike Duprez/The Dispatch)

Excitement was at a favor pitch at Central Davidson’s packed gym Friday night, with many of its enthusiastic student section clad in chefs attire, ready to cook up another Spartan win.

But as anyone knows, a bad night can happen any night. And Friday was a bad night.

David Newcomer scored 20 points and Brandon Earnhardt added 17 as visiting Trinity shelled the Spartans 60-31 in the third round of the 2-A state playoffs.

It was a stunning end for a team that came into the game with a 23-3 record and high hopes.

“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” said Central coach Brian Hege. “I’m just trying to enjoy the last few moments I can with this group. This is the last time we’re going to be together. I told them we picked a bad night to have a bad night. A lot of that had to do with Trinity. They played extremely hard on defense. We knew that was going to happen. We didn’t match their intensity early. I think we were overexcited, played a little nervous. It was a big game.”

Newcomer dazzled with his outside shooting by burying six 3-pointers, some from NBA distance. Earnhardt was 6-for-6 from the free throw line while point guard Jarrod Rogers and center Austin Sexton each had 10.

It seemed there was little Trinity could do wrong.

“Offensively, that’s the best we’ve executed and that’s the best we’ve shot as a team all year,” said Trinity coach Tim Kelly. “It wasn’t just one or two guys. I think we took three bad shots. We were keeping track of that from the bench.”

Right from the beginning, Trinity was on key, with Newcomer and Rogers launching in 3-pointers on their first attempts.

Earnhardt’s jumper to cap off a transition gave the Bulldogs (22-4) an 8-0 lead three minutes into the game.

Central turned the momentum briefly when 6-6 center Chris Pompey’s tip-in cut Trinity’s lead to 12-8 with 1:47 left in the first quarter. But Rogers hit a pair of free throws and Newcomer’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds made it 17-8.

Newcomer kept right on going with yet another 3-pointer and the Spartans continued to struggle. Hege tried different combinations, including a lineup that featured backups Jared Walls, Brantley Wray and Spencer Snider, to see if he could shake up his offense. Nothing worked and Central scored just four points in the period, trailing 28-12 at halftime.

“My assistant coaches did a good job of scouting them in person,” Kelly said. “We had seen them twice in person and I had game film on them. Our kids were really excited because everything they did, we knew.”

Central needed to make a charge early in the third quarter if it was going to have a chance to get back in the game. But Rogers converted a three-point play and Newcomer bombed in another 3-pointer in a 17-2 run. By the time a wide-open Sexton hit a backdoor layup, it was 45-14 and the only thing in doubt was the final score.

Late in the game, Hege cleared his bench and exchanged hugs with the starters when they came out.

“We played hard tonight but I thought we were a little overemotional,” Hege said. “I don’t think this takes away from anything we did all year.”

Pompey led Central, which won the Central Carolina Conference regular season and tournament championships, with nine points.

Mike Duprez can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 218 or