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On Thursday night, South Mecklenburg traveled to Hough in a NCHSAA 4A Sweet 16 matchup. South Mecklenburg entered the game with a 5-2 record, while Hough came in with a 7-2 record. Both teams have built a reputation for executing on the offensive end and playing great team basketball, so we knew it was going to be a great game to watch.

The first half started with both teams really locking in on the defensive end. Since each team does a really good job on the offensive side of the ball, both teams knew that they’d really have to focus on staying in a stance and guarding for long possessions. The first quarter ended at 6-6 as South Meck’s Bishop Boswell and Joseph Ferrante each knocked down a three-pointer, while Hough’s Graham Worland and Cal Riehl did the same.

In the second quarter, South Meck jumped out to an early 7-0 run starting with Bryson Nesbit’s baseline drive and finish. Then Joseph Ferrante grabbed the defensive rebound, hit Bishop Boswell on the outlet pass in transition, and then Boswell found Ferrante for the trail three-pointer at the top of the key. Trent Lose also got in on the action with a steal and converting the layup on the other end.

After a timeout, Hough came back out and responded. Nick Shryock led the way in the second quarter for Hough scoring four points in the quarter. He was able to attack off the bounce and finish at the basket. South Meck’s Joseph Ferrante continued to make plays for his team. He had a beautiful fake dribble handoff and drove it straight to the basket for the finish. But Hough continued to make plays to answer. Just before the end of the half, Hough’s Cal Riehl followed up a transition miss and was fouled on the tip-in with two seconds remaining. He knocked down both free throws to cut into the South Meck lead, which was 18-13 at halftime.

Joseph Ferrante exploded in the third quarter for South Meck. He started with a left hook, turning baseline on the left block. Then in transition, he caught a behind the back pass from Sincere Rasul for the dunk. Hough’s Graham Worland was able to stop the South Meck 4-0 run by grabbing the rebound and going coast-to-coast for the layup. But once again South Meck’s Ferrante answered. Trent Lose dribble penetrated and found Ferrante spotting up for three. And then Ferrante had a put-back finish for his ninth point of the quarter.

To end the third quarter, one play that really stuck out to me was the superb hustle play from South Meck’s Bryson Nesbit. As Hough tried to pass the ball to a seemingly open man underneath the rim for a layup, Nesbit hustled back into the play to intercept the pass. As his momentum was taking him out of bounds, he was able to save the ball off Hough to regain possession. On the last possession, Bishop Boswell drilled a step-back three-pointer on the buzzer to extend the South Meck lead to 30-19 going into the fourth.

In the fourth quarter, Hough started with a 5-0 run as Nick Shryock hit a three on the opening possession. Sophomore Rashad McCormick scored 11 points to help his team make a comeback push. Hough picked up the pressure in the full court trying to force turnovers. South Meck was able to withstand the Hough comeback and finish with the 49-46 victory.

South Mecklenburg advances to the NCHSAA 4A Quarterfinals and will face defending state champions North Mecklenburg.

South Mecklenburg: Final Stats
Joseph Ferrante – 20P, 6R, 2B, 1S
Bishop Boswell – 11P, 5R, 3A, 2B, 1S
Bryson Nesbit – 7P, 2R, 1A, 2B, 1S
Sincere Rasul – 6P, 3R, 1A
Trent Lose – 2P, 3R, 4A, 2S

Hough: Final Stats
Graham Worland – 12P, 5R, 2A, 1S
Rashad McCormick – 11P, 3R, 1A, 1S
Nick Shryock – 9P, 4R
Cal Riehl – 7P, 4R, 1S
Ryan Viruso – 6P, 1R, 2A
Max Crawford – 1P, 1R

Player of the Game: Joseph Ferrante

6’9 senior forward Joseph Ferrante finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal for South Mecklenburg. The lefty is so skilled around the basket. He has great touch. When he is able to turn over his right shoulder for the left-handed hook, it is pretty much automatic. He also showcased his ability to step out and consistently knock down the perimeter jumper. He hit three three-pointers on the night. He is a prospect that several Ivy League and Patriot League schools should be interested in. He is an elite student with a near-perfect score on the ACT.

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