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.
▪ 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.
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
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.