There is nothing like high school basketball getting underway here in North Carolina, as we had this date on our minds for quite some time now. Combine Academy, one of the top teams in the country, kicked off the season at home as they welcomed in Lincoln Charter, a team coming in with nothing to lose and looking to prove themselves in a big way.
They did just that, as this game came down to the final SECONDS in what was an absolute thriller.
Lincoln Charter came out firing and with a ton of energy, finding ways to knock down shots from multiple levels, hitting threes, creating multiple second-chance opportunities, and playing loose and free. That energy level was at an all-time high early on, as they punched Combine in the mouth to lead 20-6 early. Combine Academy started to chip away behind their senior leader in Silas Demary Jr. but every time Combine thought it was about to turn the tables, Lincoln Charter had an answer.
2023 Elijah Burnett was one of the guys that stepped up, while Joseph Bruce, Kelan Flowers, and Cairo Morales all made plays well. It is what helped Lincoln Charter to a 34-28 lead.
Combine though continued to chip away, as 2024 Trentyn Flowers started to come more alive, while 2024 Rakease Passmore started to get in on the action; Demary was continuing his stellar play. They were able to get it down to as many as two in the third but yet again, Lincoln Charter behind the stellar play of Burnett had an answer to hold a seven-point lead heading into the third.
We started to come down to the final minutes and with Combine only holding the lead once at 2-0, they were able to take the lead with 2:47 left to go. But Lincoln Charter, once again, wouldn’t back down as they continued to stay right there with a chance to tie late. But shots from three didn’t fall late and Combine was able to seal the deal late from the line, eventually taking home the hard-fought 69-65 victory. But a TON of credit should go to Lincoln Charter in how they competed on the road; very impressive.
Final: Combine Academy 69 – Lincoln Charter 65
Combine: Silas Demary Jr. 29 points/ Trentyn Flowers 16/ Rakease Passmore 9/ Collin Tanner 7
Lincoln: Elijah Burnett 21 points/ Xavier Crawford 13/ Cairo Morales 10/ Joseph Bruce 9
2023 Silas Demary Jr.: Demary stepped up and was the clear leader for this team. When the team was down, Demary was the one that stepped up on both sides of the ball. He was assertive in getting downhill, attacking and getting in the paint, finishing strong through contact but also getting to the line and going 15-16 from the line. He did what his team needed him to do, as he was sensational and was the go-to guy all throughout.
2024 Trentyn Flowers: It took a little time for Flowers to get going but eventually, he started to take advantage of the mismatch on the court with his size, his skillset, and his ability to score from a variety of levels. Flowers, at 6’8, is so impressive with the ball in his hands, showing how skilled, his ability to create for himself, finish with touch and craft around the basket, and also be a big threat from three. He stepped up big in the second half to help his team.
2023 Elijah Burnett: What an absolute show this unsigned senior put on. One of the underrated guards in the state may have had a coming-out party against one of the best teams in the country and he showed that he is ready to lead his team in a big way. Burnett did it all, showing his speed, his change of direction, his ability to create opportunities and get around defenders, and use his length to get to the paint and score but also see the floor and find his teammates. Burnett was simply sensational, as he led the way with 21 points.
Have to give credit to 2023 Xavier Crawford, 2023 Joseph Bruce, and 2024 Kelan Flowers. Crawford hit some big shots but was also able to mix it up and score downhill. Bruce came off the bench and played hard on the defensive end and hit big threes for LC. And Flowers was impressive with his ability to create for himself off the dribble, get downhill, and makes tough moves to open up the defense or score.