Weary lifts Panthers past Camels

Mar. 03, 2013 @ 03:28 AM

For a long time, it didn’t look good for the High Point University men. But over the final 19 minutes they completely turned it around and came through with a thrilling last-minute victory over Campbell on Senior Day.

The Panthers trailed by 14 early in the second half but rallied to cut it to one with nine minutes left, and Adam Weary’s free throws with 16.7 seconds left gave them a 63-62 win in their regular-season finale Saturday in the Millis Center.

“It means a lot,” coach Scott Cherry said. “It means a lot to those kids in the locker room. It means a lot for our seniors — four guys who have done a lot for our program. It was just good to send them out on a high note in the Millis Center. It’s something they won’t ever forget.

“It means a lot for us to have a share of the overall regular-season championship. That’s a big deal, and it’s something we’ve talked about all year long. We would’ve loved to have won it outright, but we’ll take 12-4 and tied with Charleston Southern. We’re really excited about that.”

Allan Chaney had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Panthers (17-12, 12-4 Big South), who tied for the overall Big South regular-season title with South Division champion Charleston Southern. Weary, a freshman guard, also had 15 points while Corey Law, a redshirt-senior forward, had 14.

“It feels great,” said Chaney, a graduate student in his first year at High Point. “Every win is great, of course, but this one was important. We needed it. We stayed tough, played tough defense. We stayed together and we pulled it out.

“This is important to us. This is one of our goals, to win the regular season,” he said. “So, this is great for us, getting this title. This will help our confidence, and it will help everybody’s work ethic. They see what hard work can get them.”

High Point, playing without John Brown for the first time, struggled in the first half. It fell behind 13 with 4 1/2 minutes left and trailed 34-25 at halftime. The Camels (12-19, 7-9) outrebounded the Panthers 23-12, including 10-2 on the offensive glass, in the first half.

Campbell then scored the first five points of the second to lead 39-25 with 19:02 left. High Point, which had already clinched the No. 1 North seed for this week’s Big South tournament in Conway, S.C., then answered with nine straight points to trim the deficit to 41-36 with 14:00 left.

“We just told them to stay the course, stay with the game plan,” Cherry said. “The game plan was working. They only scored 14 points in the first half against our halfcourt set defense. The other 20 were second-chance offensive rebounds and turnovers leading to fastbreak points.

“We knew that if we could cut those down that we could score the ball — we shot 50-plus percent in the second half (53.6 percent). So, we knew we’d be able to score the ball. We just had to take care of the basketball and take good shots.”

The Panthers trimmed the margin to one three times between the 9:10 and 7:51 marks. They finally tied it 59-59 on Chaney’s runner with 1:49 left and took a 61-60 lead — their first since the early moments of the ballgame — on Chaney’s jumper with 1:10 left. 

After the Camels regained the lead, Weary drove the lane and drew a blocking foul, making both foul shots with 16.7 seconds left. Campbell had one final chance but worked the ball into the corner, where High Point trapped, and it couldn’t get away a wild shot until after the final horn.

“We knew what we had to do in order to win this game,” Chaney said. “Keep them off of the offensive glass, box out, limit their second-chance points, get into the halfcourt defense and lock them up as best as we can. ...

“I think us winning the game showed that we were very confident. Coach’s speech at halftime of locking up and limiting their second-chance points — he did a great job of getting us to focus on that. He gets in us, and there was no doubt we could get back in this game.”

High Point, as the North’s No. 1 seed, is set to play the winner of Thursday’s No. 4 South-No. 5 North game in the quarterfinals Thursday at 8 p.m.