GREENSBORO After battling through a last-second victory in its semifinal win a day earlier, the last thing Freedom coach Casey Rogers wanted Sunday was another close game.
The Patriots made sure that didnt happen, bolting to an early lead against North Forsyth, then holding off a pair of comeback attempts in a 76-59 victory in the N.C. High School Athletic Associations Western Regional 3A boys final.
Gabe Logan, named the tournaments most valuable player, scored 20 points and three other players finished in double figures for Morganton Freedom (31-1), which will play Wilson Hunt (26-6) for the state title on Saturday in Chapel Hill.
This will be the Patriots first trip to the state finals since 1998, when they won the 4A boys title for the second time. They also won in 1994.
Its a testament to these guys, said Rogers, whose team advanced to the regional final by beating Weddington 63-60 on Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.
Weve talked about building a foundation of toughness. To come back 20 hours later to play in the regional final, and to play well, speaks to that toughness.
It helped that Freedom opened by outscoring the Vikings 17-5 in the first quarter and led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter.
While North Forsyth (22-9) led by Kedrick Flomos game-high 39 points twice fought back and cut the Patriots lead to single digits in the second and third quarters, Freedom was able to respond and blunt both Vikings rallies.
We just continued to talk about getting stops on the defensive end and doing a good job on the glass (rebounding), Rogers said. When they made moves, we got enough stops and did a good job of limiting their second-chance points.
North Rowan 58, Smoky Mountain 56: The Cavaliers advanced to a state championship game for the first time in three years after rallying late in the fourth quarter against the previously unbeaten Mustangs.