Future Heels Put on a Show

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- P.J. Hairston couldn't have asked for a better scenario.

In front of a big crowd at the Dean Smith Center, with his team down two points and 32 seconds left in the game, Hairston came off a screen at the top of the key, caught the ball, rose up over friend and rival Reggie Bullock of Kinston High and let it rip.

But after making six of his first 12 three-pointers, the shot that would've buried his future teammate at Carolina and Kinston High, was just off.

"It looked good - it was right on line," Hairston said after the game. "That's the shot I usually hit -- especially if I'm wide open. But sometimes, it just won't fall."

After Hairston's miss, Bullock atoned for two missed free throws earlier in the final minute and sank two free throws with 18.3 seconds left, sealing the 68-63 win over Greensboro Dudley Saturday night.

After the game, Bullock laughed and said he thought Hairston's look in the final minute was off when he released it, but hindsight undoubtedly played a factor in his confidence.

Bullock guarded Hairston most of the night, working hard to get past screens and keep up with the junior‘s seemingly limitless range.

"The range he has on his shot is the toughest thing he's got," Bullock said. "You can't guard a player who keeps hitting shots three feet away from the three point line. He's a great player. I'm just glad we came out with the win."

While Bullock got the win on the scoreboard, Hairston posted more points than his future Carolina teammate -- albeit slightly. Hairston finished the game with 24 points (9-22 FG, 6-13 3FG) to Bullock's 23 points (9-17 FG, 2-7 3FG) and 15 rebounds, and his team was in the driver's seat through the first half.

Hairston had 13 points in the first half and after an even opening period, the Panthers built a 30-24 lead in the second quarter.

But Kinston used its defense to fight back in the third quarter. The Vikings made some adjustments on Hairston and outscored Dudley 27-9 in the quarter. Bullock attacked the rim hard in the third, shooting 4-for-4 from the field and scoring nine points as Kinston moved ahead 51-39.

"We were just executing plays. That was the difference between the first half and the second half," Hairston said. "Third quarter, we just stopped executing plays and got lazy on defense."

Kinston clung to a double-digit lead late in the game, leading by 10 with under two minutes to go, before Dudley turned up the defensive pressure, forcing five turnovers in a 45-second span and creeping back within two points with 45 seconds to go.

After missing the front end of a one-and-one earlier in the final minute, Bullock missed a second front-end with 23 seconds to go. Hairston rebounded the miss and looked for an outlet pass to teammate JaQuel Richmond down court but Bullock leaped up and stole the ball, maintaining the two-point lead.

"He was actually wide open. It's just Reggie's length that really messed it up," Hairston said. "I thought the pass was right on line and then I saw Reggie and I realized how long he was and I forgot."

Even though he scored nine points in the fourth quarter to give his team a chance to win, Hairston said he plans to put in some extra time in the gym tomorrow to make up for missing the three-pointer in the final minute.

"I'm going to go in the gym tomorrow and shoot a bunch of shots," Hairston said. "I'll shoot probably 1,000 shots, hopefully."

When the buzzer sounded, Bullock and Hairston shook hands at mid-court and talked about their plans for Sunday.

"We're actually going to sit together at the game tomorrow (against Virginia Tech)," Hairston said. "Coach Williams has tickets for us, so we're going to come back here and sit together and talk about the game. Talk a little junk."

Bullock will have the upper hand in any trash talking as the Kinston senior completed a career sweep against Dudley Saturday. Bullock and Kinston have won three straight against the Panthers with the previous two coming in the NCHSAA playoffs.

Unfortunately, there won't be a chance for a rematch since Dudley was reclassified as a 4-A school this year and Kinston moved down to 2-A.

"I wish we could play more than once," Hairston said. "But it was real fun out there playing with him. It was a great experience, especially in the Dean Dome, since we're going to be teammates in two years."

Bullock said even though the rivalry is over, their friendship has just begun.

"He is a great teammate of mine (for AAU) … It was just fun playing a game against him." Bullock said. "Hopefully he'll win his 4-A state championship and I'll win my 2-A state championship."

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