Jim Whitmire had seen enough.
Nursing a single-digit advantage with 3:58 remaining during Wednesday’s competitive, at-times chippy regular-season finale with Bunn, and with each possession qualifying in its own way as a matter of win-or-go-home, the longtime Roanoke Rapids women’s varsity basketball coach signaled time-out.
Yellow Jackets 38, Wildcats 31 — just not for long.
“High post to the top, high post to the wing,” Whitmire said of his crunch-time directive. “After two or three of those, it’s going to open up underneath — and that’s exactly what we did… my exact words to my team were, for the next three minutes, be very deliberate on offense.”
And so the Jackets spilled forth, turning assignment into application, moving and cutting and passing to finish at the basket in ways that would have prompted a grin from even the most old-school of old-school basketball enthusiasts.
Yellow Jackets 49, Wildcats 32.
And with it, a limited-capacity fan base restored to a decibel level less than stadium-rock dizzy.
“This basketball team grew up, into what they are absolutely capable of doing, in the last four minutes,” Whitmire said of the team’s march to victory, which cemented a Northern Carolina 1A/2A crown and a berth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2A postseason. “We stepped up our play, even more than we’ve done all season long, under any circumstance.”
Fab Five ... and stats
Junior sniper Logan Abram led the black-and-gold cause with 14 points, two rebounds and four assists, while presumptive NCC Player of the Year Rylie Wade — working through a high-ankle sprain — contributed 13 points, eight boards and three assists.
Also creating a stir was Kylie Wade, who went for 11 points, 15 rebounds and three assists, and Ella King, whose floor game resulted in 10 points and six assists.
Sophomore Skyler Wade, operating at point guard, assembled a line that included 11 rebounds, two assists and three steals.
As a title-winning ensemble, RRHS managed 34% shooting from the field, 33% from the great beyond and assisted on 18 of 20 made baskets.
Pairings, pairings, pairings
Roanoke Rapids (9-1) will enter next week’s postseason bash as the top-seeded NCC outfit, followed by Granville Central (2-7), which should qualify for the tourney as the split-league’s top 1A post.
Barring the unexpected, Bunn (9-3) will not make the field — one of many casualties brought about this winter by smaller statewide brackets.
“I can only imagine, now that there’s gonna be only 32 (teams) in the state playoffs, how this is going to go,” Whitmire said of the road ahead. “The competition is going to be stiff from the start, so we gotta come out ready to play basketball.”
And with any luck, in the same capacity displayed on Wednesday, when the Jackets earned the right to be called champions.
Roanoke Rapids 49,
RRHS: Rylie Wade 5 0 3-3 13, Skyler Wade 0 0 1-4 1, Logan Abram 4 2 0-0 14, Kylie Wade 5 0 1-4 11, Ella King 2 2 0-3 10—49.
BUNN: Tydaja Mickens 1 0 0-0 2, Alexis Perry 4 1 1-2 12, Alana Sanders 1 0 0-0 2, Kaitlyn Adams 6 0 4-6 16—32.
Wildcats solve Yellow Jackets
Hot-shooting Bunn used a quick start on Wednesday to register a 56-41 victory over Northern Carolina 1A/2A host Roanoke Rapids.
Paul Spivey led the Wildcats with 13 points, while Ah’quay Mosley went for 11 points. Lavadous Bolden and Jai Austin also played well for the visitors, netting 10 points apiece.
Bunn finished its season with an 8-5 overall record, while RRHS managed a 4-8 ledger.