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ACS earns highest finish

ASKEWVILLE – It was a win a long time in the making.

Through Jay Conn, J.D. Kessler and Bill Mitchell the Warriors have been gradually getting better on the varsity basketball court.

During the North Carolina Christian Athletic Conference (NCCSA) state tournament the Warriors defeated Coastal Christian School and Gramercy Christian Academy to finish fifth. The win Saturday over Gramercy gave the Warriors their best finish ever in the state tournament.

“It was a really important win for us,” said current ACS skipper Bill Mitchell. “We wanted to finish strong and reach this accomplishment and we did. I think it was great for our seniors and great for our program.”

The Warriors will lose three to graduation at the end of the year. They include Omari Mitchell, Stanton Plaunty and Dorian Freeman. Mitchell said all three of those young men had been instrumental in laying the pathway for future success at ACS.

“They have meant a lot,” Mitchell said. “Stanton and Omari have been with this team for as many as seven years. They have grown up in the program. Dorian has given his all.

“Coaching these young men and watching them from children into young men means so much,” the coach added. “Now they’ll be going off to college to continue their life.”

The Warriors were led in their win over Gramercy by 14 points from Jalen Cooley and 11 from Plaunty. Mitchell and Freeman contributed 10 each in their senior finale.

Zack Walter got the scoring started for the Warriors with an early hoop, but Gramercy responded when Isaac Taylor hit a hoop and David Harum added a three-pointer to give the Warriors in green their early lead. A free throw by Andy Worthington was enough for Gramercy to lead 5-2, but a three-pointer from Cooley quickly got the Warriors back in the game at 6-5.

Gramercy was able to pull away again, taking an 11-5 edge, but Ahoskie answered with back-to-back field goals from Cooley and Walter as they closed to 11-9.

Seeded fifth in the tourney, Gramercy showed why late in the fourth quarter, going on an 8-1 spurt to hold a 19-12 edge after one quarter.

Ahoskie began to rally early in the second period as Plaunty hit a hoop followed by back-to-back baskets from Freeman as they climbed to within 19-18. Taylor then scored for GCS, but was answered by Cooley. When Mitchell made 1-of-2 from the line seconds later, the game was tied at 21-all. The contest was tied three more times before the end of the first half.

Freeman and Jerome Meadows were able to score on back-to-back trips down the floor and Plaunty added a free throw as Ahoskie edge ahead 28-25. A late Gramercy free throw made it 28-26 at the intermission.

The third quarter was key for Ahoskie as they pulled away to a seven-point edge (38-31) by the end of the period. Bruce Lassiter scored back-to-back hoops to start the quarter and later in the period Plaunty had a key score that gave ACS a 10-point lead (36-26).

Gramercy closed within seven before the end of the quarter and set up a great battle in the fourth quarter.

A key 5-1 run for Gramercy started the quarter as they closed the gap to 41-38. The game went back-and-forth from there with Marcus Conner hitting a shot to get the fifth-seed within one (55-54) late in the contest.

Plaunty then hit two free throws at the other end to preserve the Warriors 57-54 victory.