All season, Jay M. Robinson (Concord, N.C.) hoops standout Lavar Batts Jr. bore the weight of being the Tar Heel State’s top prospect in the Class of 2017.
So the added pressure of carrying the pride of a whole state shouldn’t be too much for his broad shoulders to bear, right?
No problem at all.
The VCU signee scored 16 points and dished out six assists, doing his part to lead the North Carolina all-star squad past its South Carolina counterparts in the Carolinas All-Star Classic.
Batts earned his keep by going 6-for-14 from the field in 23 minutes of play. For his effort, the Bulldogs’ star was named North Carolina team MVP.
“It’s great. I just came out here and played, had fun, and mainly to get the dub and break the scoring record as a team,” he said. “(Winning the team MVP award) wasn’t my intentions, I just came out to have fun.”
North Carolina led nearly the duration of the contest, with the squad from the Palmetto State leading all of 58 seconds in the contest. Leading by 18 points at the break, a South Carolina run would whittle the deficit down to five, 68-63, with 13 minutes remaining.
Helping lead the South Carolina charge was Lower Richland standout Clyde Trapp Jr. Showing off his range, the Clemson signee finished 12-of-19 from the field — including 4-for-8 beyond the arc — en route to a game-high 28 points.
“(North Carolina all-star coach Aubrey Hollifield) kept saying I couldn’t shoot, so I had to show him,” he said. “I put in the work, so I can play with just about anybody. I don’t ever doubt myself.”
In addition to Trapp, Keenan’s Tariq Simmons poured in 24 points, while Crestwood’s Temetrius Morant had 23 in a losing effort.
Socastee standout Jason Cudd had 5 points in his final game at “The Brave Wave.”
However, that effort would be less than enough, as seven North Carolina players finished in double figures. East Chapel Hill’s Carter Collins led the kids from the Tar Heel State with 20, while Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.) Patrick Dorsey had 19 points of his own.
Adding 18 points in a winning effort was Garner Magnet’s (N.C.) Alex Reed.
Following an alley-oop to Reed with 90 seconds remaining, Batts pointed with pride to the words ‘North Carolina’ on his all-star game jersey. According to the Jay M. Robinson standout, putting on for the “Hoop State” was the ultimate honor.
“Hey, that’s a big title … ‘Hoop State,’” he said. “I mean, we’re the best basketball state in the country. No one can mess with North Carolina. We’re that team.”
NC (134): Lavar Batts Jr. 16, Carter Collins 20, Patrick Dorsey 19, Alex Reed 18, Moses Wright 10, Ryan Schwieger 9, Quay Kimble 10, Donte Tatum 8, Justyn Hamilton 16, Austin Nelson 8.
SC (115): Tariq Simmons 24, James Reese 13, Zach Butler 9, Hayden Brown 4, Temetrius Morant 23, Jalen Cameron 2, Clyde Trapp Jr. 28, Jordan Davis 7, Jason Cudd 5.
Half: NC 62-44. 3-pointers: NC 12 (Batts, Collins 2, Dorsey 5, Reed 2, Kimble 2), SC 12 (Simmons 2, reese, Butler, Brown, Morant, Trapp 4, Davis). Team fouls: NC 19, SC 14. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
North Carolina 95, South Carolina 67: In a game chock full of stars, it was those from North Carolina that shone brightest.
Leading on one occasion by as many as 37 points, the girls from the Tar Heel State put quite the bow on the 2017 basketball campaign, cruising to a 95-67 win over the South Carolina all-star team.
Five minutes in, the North Carolina all-star squad put its stamp on the contest, going on an 18-0 run that left its opponents from the Palmetto State unable to respond.
Six North Carolina players finished in double figures, led by Clinton’s (N.C.) Mikayla Boykin, who had 15 points in a winning effort. As a result, she received the team’s MVP award.
“I definitely expected a few hiccups because a lot of us didn’t know each other like that,” she said. “We had to build chemistry and got to a point where bonded well and played well.”
Along with Boykin, four North Carolina players finished with 12 points apiece.
For the game, South Carolina shot just above 32 percent as a team.
Playing in front of a hometown crowd for the final time, Myrtle Beach standout Nia Sumpter wound with a team-high 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting. According to the Wright State signee, though the game didn’t wind up as wished, the experience still was rather fulfilling.
“It was pretty fun going up against top competition, especially since we didn’t play that much in our conference,” Sumpter said. “… Being selected made it special. I’ve been working at since I was in eighth-grade so it was pretty special to me.”
In addition to Sumpter, Dreher’s Jaelynn Murray had 13 points while Diamon Shiflet of Greer had 10.
NC (95): Kai Crutchfield 8, Elisia Grissett 11, Mikayla Boykin 15, Kyra Davis 5, Kayla Jones 12, Ariyana Williams 12, Jaylin Powell 12, Dazia Powell 12, Tariah Johnson 6, Asia Henderson 2.
SC (67): Mariah Linney 5, Armanii Grice 6, Rhetta Moore 2, Diamon Shiflet 10, Jaelynn Murray 13, Shanteal Davis 9, Bryanna Goodson 6, Nia Sumpter 14, A’Lexxus Sowell 2.
Half: NC 50-29. 3-pointers: NC 9 (Crutchfield 2, Boykin, Jones 2, J. Powell 1, D. Powell 3), SC 5 (Linney, Shiflet, Davis, Sumpter 2). Team fouls: NC 11, SC 22. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None