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CREEDMOOR — The Granville Central Panthers defeated the Wakefield Wolverines 78-66 in the Navy Bracket of the South Granville Holiday Invitational on Dec. 27.
Harper Strickland put Wakefield on the board first with a pair of free throws. Granville Central answered with Terence Harcum finding Seth Wade open under the basket for an easy layup.
Wakefield seemed poised to run away with the game early with Strickland and Brenon Rogers scoring for a 7-2 lead, but Harcum’s relentless work on the boards helped close the gap with two rebounds and baskets.
Jamari Mann broke loose on the right side for a layup and Harcum filled the basket with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 11-all.
Liam Witchey broke the tie with a driving layup and the Wolverines led 13-11.
Granville Central went on an eight-point run with Mann, Ihzayah Marcellus and Harcum scoring. The Panthers had a 19-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Mann was on the money as the Panthers rolled to a 22-13 lead. Rogers stopped Granville Central from getting too far ahead with a long-range shot as Wakefield tried to get back in the game.
Mann canned a three for the Panthers while Vernon Fraley made free throws for the Wolverines.
Mann poured in the next six points for Granville Central and Harcum added a quick floater for a 34-22 lead.
Wakefield trimmed the lead to 34-29 at the half, with Tommy Petruccione’s 3-pointer, Andrew Rogers’ 3-pointer and Brenon Rogers’ free throw.
Harcum put Granville Central on his back and scored the first six points in the third quarter. Harcum then dished an assist to Kalvin Johnson to give Granville Central a 42-39 lead.
Wakefield kept playing hard with Strickland and Fraley scoring in the third quarter.
After a couple of Harcum free throws, on the next trip down the court Tyler Coley grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball in for the Panthers.
Baskets by Johnson and Harcum gave Granville Central a 51-45 lead at the end of the third quarter.
There was a lot of fight left in both teams as the fourth quarter began. Harcum drove in and drew the foul. The basket did not count, but the free throws did. Johnson scored on a rebound and put back and Mann followed with a layup to give Granville Central a 57-47 lead. Harcum extended the lead with a pair of free throws.
Wakefield was almost in a do-or-die situation and Strickland rose to the occasion with a much-needed score. Brenon Rogers connected on two from the line and Strickland followed with a second basket to trim the lead to 59-53.
Mann made two foul shots and Harcum converted an old-fashioned 3-pointer to give Granville Central a 64-55 lead.
The Panthers went silent as Strickland, Fraley and Brenon Rogers scored from the free-throw line. Granville Central was sitting on a 64-63 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
JJ Tilley had a game-changing block for the Panthers that stopped the Wakefield run. Marcellus hurried back down the court and canned a 3-pointer. Tyler Coley stepped to the line on the next trip down the court. The lefty made two free throws to extend the lead to 69-63.
Harcum found Marcellus open for a basket to extend the lead.
Jaxon Brown halted the Granville Central run with a 3-pointer for the Wolverines.
All Granville Central had to do was hit free throws to seal the game. Harcum made all four of his attempts and Tilley closed the game with his free throws.
The Panthers advanced to the championship with the 78-66 win over Wakefield.
Statistics: Jamari Mann (23 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block), Kalvin Johnson (seven points and two rebounds), JJ Tilley (two points, six rebounds,two assists and one block), Ihzayah Marcellus (seven points, three rebounds and two steals), Tyler Coley (four points and six rebounds), Terence Harcum (33 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and three steals) and Seth Wade (two points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal).