The math was simple. Two meetings in back-to-back years in the state playoffs, two Vance wins. Tabor seniors Mike Grace (Yale), Josh Hicks (Old Dominion) and C.J. Harris (Wake Forest) had enough. Something had to give.
Harris' sophomore season ended at hands of Vance just as it did last year. This time, the game was on Tabor's turf and Vance rolled in with a pair of sophomore starters in Marquis Rankin and Jacoby Davis plus a freshman sixth man, Braxton Ogbueze.
Vance fell behind by 13 at the half as a myriad of zones and traps, combined with a loud Tabor student section, took them out of their game. "That's how I felt when we played them at Vance," Harris said. "What goes around comes around."
What wasn't coming around was Vance's perimeter game as it struggled to make shots and maintain possession of the ball. Without junior point guard Daryl Traynham, Tabor's blitz package was even more effective. Traynham missed his second playoff game for disciplinary reasons.
Harris, Wake's in-state signee, struggled early to get a shot to go down. Then, with time running out in the third quarter, Harris intercepted a pass and sprinted down the floor for a buzzer-beating dunk.
Harris finished with 21 points, Grace 15 and Hicks 12. Grace's poise with the ball helped. Hicks, without the benefit of making a single jumper, rolled up 12 of his own.
The seniors got the best of the young fellas in the final chapter of a great playoff rivalry. "I didn't expect the margin to be like this," Muse said. "I have great respect for their guards."
Rankin's a prospect and once he began getting in the paint, it opened up Vance's offense. The entire Wake Forest staff including Dino Gaudio was on hand to see Harris and Rankin's crew.
Jacoby Davis scored 17 to lead Vance. He's already on the radar of the regional programs. A tough-minded guard, Davis finds ways to chip in and fuel the engine. Ogbueze, a 5-foot-11 frosh, has the look of one of the top young guards in the state. Defensive minded and offensively talented, he's got game. All the Vance guards do.
While Vance can look to the future, which remains bright, Harris and his crew move on to face Greensboro Page and Julius Brooks Friday night.