The crowd was standing as Estes, the 6-foot-6 West Charlotte junior power forward ended Dudley's season with a running bank shot that caromed off the glass and through the net.
Game over. Estes is the semifinal hero.
West Charlotte will play Lake Norman for the right to represent the 4-A West Region in the state final.
The matchup featured the state's two premier long distance marksmen. However, neither P.J. Hairston nor J.T. Terrell was dialed in. Few would have envisioned a scenario where Terrell would shoot 6-for-22 (4-12 3s) and West Charlotte would win. Terrell's frustrating 20-point night had a reason: Reggie Dillard.
The 6-foot-3 sophomore wing from Dudley draped himself all over Terrell from the tip. He chased, bumped and closed out on Terrell with measured intensity on the defensive end. As a result, he frustrated Terrell into some ill-advised shots. Dillard had no room for error on Terrell because the few times he was late, Terrell splashed a 3-pointer (including one biggie late in the 4th).
Hairston's junior season ended on a slow night from the perimeter as he shot 1-for-8 behind the line. Hairston did post up a few times and wisely managed to get himself to the line where he went 10-for-12. He finished with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.
In the other semifinal, Lake Norman went up big, lost the lead and then came back to defeat Ardrey Kell.
Lake Norman is powered inside by the play of Mercer-bound power forward Paul Larsen. The senior went for 18 points and 10 rebounds as the lefty caught it, went left and connected on 7 of his 9 shots around the basket.
Kell senior Just Cheek provided the fireworks on his end. High Point head coach Scott Cherry reveled in the performance his signee put on. Cheek strapped the Knights on his back and went for 30 points on 11-for-18 from the field, including 4 3-pointers.
Cheek's an offensive talent with great bloodlines. His father is an NFL referee and his sister plays basketball at Duke. If he can slant his personality and become more aggressive, he has the talent to easily turn into an all Big South standout.
Reggie Dillard's offense is coming around. He gets a lot of credit for his defense but its important to remember he's only a sophomore and made strides this season. … Estes does a few athletic things a game which offers glimpses into his talent base. He's an explosive player in the paint. …
One of the biggest adjustments for high school players in college is knowing when (and where) to shoot from. Guys like Hairston and Terrell are excellent shooters with the green light for their teams. Both have game off the dribble and both are susceptible to settling for 3s. In Hairston's case, he's comfortable in the post and that will be an area he exploits. With Terrell, he's got game with the mid-range pull and that's a spot he can achieve. …
West Charlotte junior Jacoby Davis stepped into a big 3-pointer late. He had 16 points and handled the moment well. … Dudley is primed for the future. Among the bevy of young kids they have is wing JaQuel Richmond and developing post player Brandon Clyburn. … Generously listed at 5-7, Brandon Richardson made a series of huge perimeter shots for West Charlotte. The senior stepped up this post season. … West Charlotte has plenty of young talent too. Sophomore Julius Hamilton and freshman Kennedy Meeks didn't have big roles on Thursday but they're a talented pair. …