Millbrook beats Apex Friendship in battle of unbeatens, advances to NCHSAA semis

Steve Lyttle
·3 min read

It was Wake County’s de facto boys’ championship basketball game, and it was settled by the smallest of margins — a personal foul, a pair of clutch free throws, and the ball rolling around the rim instead of into it.

By that narrow margin, host Millbrook edged Apex Friendship 68-66 in overtime Saturday, winning the battle of 16-0 teams and advancing to the 4A boys’ state semifinals.

Each team had its heroes.

Chris Daniels, Millbrook’s No. 3 scorer during this abbreviated season, was in the spotlight Saturday with a game-high 25 points.

That included a layup with less than a minute left, tying the game at 66, and two free throws with 25 seconds remaining for the winning points.

For Apex Friendship, senior guard Kenny Noland, a likely South Wake Athletic 4A Player of the Year, connected on a 3-pointer with seven seconds left in the fourth quarter, tying the game and forcing overtime.

The visiting Patriots traded the lead with Millbrook through the opening half of the four-minute overtime, but Noland’s layup and a three-point play by Gabe Proctor gave Apex Friendship a 66-62 lead.

Moments later, the game pivoted on a personal foul call against the Patriots’ go-to player, Luke Proctor. It was his fifth, and after Proctor left, his team never scored again.

Apex Friendship had the ball at the end, and coach P.J. Lowman called a time out with 11.6 seconds left. But the Patriots’ 3-point attempt to win the game rolled off the rim, as did a pair of short stick-back attempts.

The buzzer sounded, and moments later, Daniels was being hugged by his father and the Wildcats were celebrating their victory.

Lowman acknowledged that losing Proctor made a difference.

“I don’t have enough positive adjectives to describe him,” Lowman said. “As a coach, when you envision how things will go down the stretch, you envision a player like Luke being there.”

Three who mattered

Chris Daniels, Millbrook: Daniels averaged 13.6 points a game during the season, but he scored 25 Saturday -- 15 of those in the first half.

Silas Demary, Millbrook: A 6-4 junior guard, Demary poured in 18 points. He and Daniels accounted for 21 of their team’s 32 first-half points.

Kenny Noland, Apex Friendship: Noland, a 6-3 senior, led the Patriots with 24 points. He scored nine of the team’s 11 fourth-quarter points, including the game-tying 3-pointer.

Worth mentioning

The game was close, all the way. The biggest lead for either team was six points, when Millbrook went up 30-24 late in the second quarter. That was the same margin at halftime, with the Wildcats ahead 32-26.

Millbrook dominated the boards, as many people had expected. The Wildcats had a 38-24 rebounding edge, with Redford Dunton and Eric Van der Heiden each grabbing 10 boards.

Millbrook also had the better shooting day, hitting 27-of-55 for 48 percent from the floor. Apex Friendship connected on 26-of-63, many of those from 3-point range.

Lowman says six seniors on this year’s team accumulated 23 seasons of basketball at Apex Friendship. “That’s a lot of experience and a lot of memories leaving,” he said.

What’s next?

Apex Friendship finishes with a 16-1 record. Millbrook is 17-0 and plays Tuesday in the East Regional finals.

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle

Game summary

Apex Friendship 17 9 22 11 7 — 66

Millbrook 15 17 20 7 9 — 68

APEX FRIENDSHIP: Kenny Noland 24; Gabe Proctor 14; Ganim 7; Luke Proctor 10; Asken 4; Holmes 5; Cleary 2.

MILLBROOK: Silas Demary 18; Chris Daniels 25; Redford Dunton 10; Eric Van der Heiden 11; Jordan 4; Donaldson 0.