Carmel Christian coach Joe Badgett has a pregame routine he always follows. He changes into his suit, then he walks into the locker room to give a pregame speech, usually trying to get his Cougars, No. 1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, ready to play a big game.
Only when Badgett got to the locker room before Tuesday’s state semifinal with Raleigh’s Ravenscroft School, the locker room was empty.
“I get downstairs and they’re already on the floor warming up,” Badgett said after his team’s 87-54 win. “They were locked in and focused from the get-go, and if you do that, you’ll start games well. And four starters -- Cade Tyson and Ben Burnham and Glenn Bynum and Justin Taylor -- just did it on both ends of the floor. They got into an offensive rhythm and then took over with defense. And when that happens, we’re pretty hard to deal with.”
Ravenscroft (13-5), a No. 3 playoff seed, certainly had a tough time. The Ravens were down 27-9 to start the game and never recovered. Comeh Emuobor had 17 for Ravenscroft and Jeremiah Wiliams added 12, but this game was never close.
Tyson had 32 points. Burnham had 26. Bynum had 11, and Taylor and Julian Arias combined for 19 assists.
Carmel Christian advanced to its third state championship game in four years. Carmel won the 2A and 3A state finals in 2018 and 2019, but lost in the second round, at home, in the 2020 playoffs.
“It’s been of their focal points from the start of the year, to get back into the state championship game,” Badgett said, “and they’ve done a great job and we’ll see what happens next.”
Carmel (24-1) will face Cannon School (26-5) in the state final Saturday at 4:30 at Carmel Christian. Due to the pandemic, the N.C. Independent Schools decided to not hold multiple state finals at one site.
“It’s awesome,” said Tyson, who transferred from Union County’s Piedmont High School last fall. “I’ve never been there, and it’ll be awesome to see how it goes.”
▪ In 1A boys, United Faith (18-3) and Victory Christian (20-7) advanced to the state championship game. The teams will meet Saturday at 5 p.m. at United Faith. United Faith beat top seeded Cape Fear 59-54. Victory Christian beat Greenfield School 68-53.
▪ In 3A, Gaston Christian’s boys advanced to Saturday’s championship, beating Cape Fear 85-56. Gaston Christian will play High Point Christian or Asheville Christian.
▪ In 3A, Concord Academy’s girls (17-2) beat top seed High Point Christian 65-58 to advance to Saturday’s final at Asheville Christian (13-7).
Cannon School girls 58, Greensboro Day 40: Led by 30 points from Georgia recruit Reigan Richardson, Cannon School broke open a tight game with a 21-7 push in the fourth quarter. Seini Hicks had 10 points for Cannon. Je’Bria Fullwood had 12 for Greensboro Day. Cannon (19-5) will host North Raleigh Christian in Saturday’s state final at noon.
Richardson scored her 2,000th career point in the game.
North Raleigh Christian girls 56, Providence Day 39: North Raleigh Christian outscored Providence Day 16-6 in a decisive fourth quarter to eliminate the reigning N.C. 4A state champions. Madison Mims had 22 to lead North Raleigh. Imani Lester added 10. El Ferguson (12) and Jordyn Latter (10) led Providence Day (16-7).
The 2A boys semifinals are Wednesday. Wayne Country Day (22-2) is at the Burlington School (20-7). Rock Hill’s Westminster Catawba (16-3) is at Northwood Templte (25-7).
In the girls 2A semifinals, Davidson Day (16-5) is at Trinity Christian (14-4). The winner will play the Burlington School in Saturday’s championship.