Bullock, Kinston Win State Title

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Reggie Bullock's grin was so wide, you'd never know that earlier in the evening the look of agony covered his face.

But now he was basking in the postgame glow of Kinston's first state championship in 43 years. And he held a Most Outstanding Player plaque as evidence of his contributions. Though he was being held up by a pair of crutches, evidence of what he endured.

Bullock began Saturday's state title game at the Dean E. Smith Center against Trinity by scoring nine of his team's first 13 points, as Kinston jumped out to a 17-3 lead early.

State Title:
Reggie Bullock Highlights

"It was just coming in the flow of the offense," the 6-6 sophomore said. "My teammates were finding me -- they saw that I was getting hot."

While Trinity continued to narrow the gap (cutting the lead to 30-23 at the half and tying it up at 34 in the third) Bullock -- the tallest player on his squad -- crashed the boards and had eight rebounds to go with 13 points by mid-way through the third quarter.

But that's when his stat line came to a sudden halt.

While moving laterally into the paint on defense, Bullock's left foot slid out and rolled. And he went down in a heap under the hoop.

"My ankle twisted under the basket - I felt it pop," he said."

Bullock was helped to the locker room, but his competitive spirit wasn't going to keep him there for long.

"I went back in the [locker room], and I was [thinking], 'I can't give up on my team,'" he said. "My mom came back there. She said, 'Are you sure you want to go back out there?' And I was like, 'Yeah, I want to go back out there,' because I couldn't give up on my team -- we worked too hard throughout the year.

"I told my mom to go check the score. She went out there and checked it, and said we were up by three."

Bullock emerged from the locker room and was greeted with applause from the Kinston fans. And he surprised them when he re-entered the game mid-way through the 4th quarter.

Bullock nearly stole the ball on his one possession, but the ankle injury was too severe to continue.

"He went out there and looked like he'd been hit by a 12-gauge," Kinston head coach Wells Gulledge said. "We had to get him out of there. He went out there injured and he had a great deflection, but we knew that it was time for him to come out and not risk any further injury. We had plenty of guys that we could sub in there and finish the job."

And that they did. With Bullock looking on from the sidelines, with an ice pack on his ankle, Kinston held on for a 60-58 win.

"I'm just glad that my teammates stepped up and led us to the win," Bullock said. "I was thanking them in the locker room. I'm thankful for my teammates stepping up and winning it."

This was the first state title for Kinston since 1965, a 43-year span that the team and former players were well aware of throughout this playoff run.

"I talked to [Kinston native] Jerry [Stackhouse], and he told me to go out there and win it," Bullock said. "I talked to a lot of players that came through here that were good players that never won it. It means a lot to everybody."

Having already committed to play college ball at North Carolina, Bullock said he was well aware that this game was being played in his future home. And as soon as his postgame interview in the Smith Center tunnel concluded, Gulledge passed him his cell phone. It was a congratulatory call from UNC assistant coach Steve Robinson.

With the high school season over, the AAU season now begins. And there will be little time to rest in between. Bullock's CP3 All-Stars hold their first practice Sunday.

Bullock says he'll sit this one out.

"I'm still going to go up there but I'll just watch them," he said.

No doubt he's earned the day off.

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