Person High School’s varsity boys’ basketball team lost to Westover, 86-65, in the first round of the 3A state playoffs Tuesday in Fayetteville.
The 17th-seeded Rockets (21-6) and 16th-seeded Wolverines (21-8) each finished second in their respective conferences behind the East’s No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, Northwood and E. E. Smith.
“We weren’t happy with how the seeding process came out,” PHS head coach Charles Dacus said. “We thought we should’ve had a little bit better seed. (Westover) should’ve had a better seed– they’re definitely a top 10, for sure, team in the state. It makes no sense why we’re matched up in the first round.”
The Wolverines, led by head coach George Stackhouse, list three players at 6-6 and another at 6-7 and narrowly fell, 63-62, to E. E. Smith (23-3) in their conference title game Feb. 17.
The Rockets were without starting center Romello Snow due to sickness, one of the Rockets’ best post defenders and rebounders.
“We started out already lacking in size to them but then with him not being able to play, it made us a little bit smaller,” Dacus said. “I thought our guys competed really well at times but it just wasn’t enough to sustain.”
Westover junior wing Ari Fulton scored 17 of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter to help the Wolverines take a 31-18 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Both teams put up 17 points in the second quarter before Westover outscored Person, 23-11, in the third to ultimately coast to the win in the fourth.
Sophomore wing Lance Clarke led Person with 21 points while senior Julian Crawley scored 18 in his final game as a Rocket.
Junior guard Isaiah Smith also reached double-figures with 11.
Crawley was Person’s only senior starter throughout the year and while his contributions will be tough to replace, the Rockets are set to return a solid core next season.
“I think our group, being as young as we are, really did maximize what we were able to do this year,” Dacus said.
Dacus also pointed out that in his years of experience, when he’s had 20+ win teams in the past, he’s usually had between 3-5 returners for the next season. This time, he has 12 set to come back from this year’s squad next season.
“A majority of (those 12) played a lot of minutes,” Dacus said. “So we’ve got the opportunity to try to do what we did this year again next year… We’re excited for the offseason to work on getting better.”
Westover 86, Person 65
Person 18 - 17 - 11 - 17 – 63
Westover 31 - 17 - 23 15 – 86
Person – Lance Clarke 21, Julian Crawley 18, Isaiah Smith 11, Jason Phillips 4, Quante Bowman 3, Ian Russell 3, CJ Hunt 2, DaeJon Hodge 1
Westover – Ari Fulton 32, Malechi Allen 16, Almare Josey 13, Jeremiah McGrady 9, McKiyah Tarver 7, Jaylen Miller 4, Aziz Al-Jarhanni 3, Jaedon Jones 2
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