After opening the season with two blowout wins, the North Carolina JV basketball team (2-1) was placed in a tough battle against Flight 22 Prep Academy. The battle was just too much for them to handle as they dropped their first game of the year by a final score of 61-53.
UNC got off to a slow start, falling behind early due to intense ball pressure from Flight 22 which forced a slew of turnovers. The Tar Heels briefly gained the lead at the 13 minute mark, but quickly fell behind again as Flight 22 continued getting open looks in transition.
UNC closed the gap towards the end of the first half, but an 8-0 run by Flight 22 brought the score to 31-19 at the end of the half.
The second half started off the same for the Tar Heels, as offensive mistakes led to easy run-out opportunities for Flight 22. Flight 22 extended the lead to 47-30 with roughly ten minutes left in the game.
It was at this moment that UNC gained some momentum due to a match-up zone defense in the half court. This stifled Flight 22's offense and got the Tar Heels back in the game.
After holding Flight 22 scoreless for six minutes, sophomore guard Evan Abolins went to the line with a chance to tie the game at 47 on an and-one opportunity.
Abolins missed his free throw, and just a couple of possessions later, Flight 22 was able to halt the UNC run at 16-0 thanks to an and-one of their own from Neeko Taylor. Flight 22 had a quick 6-0 run of their own, and continued to extend its lead through free throws.
The final nail in the coffin was a technical foul for flopping on a three-point attempt by Abolins, which gave Flight 22 a foul shot and the ball when the team was already up by seven. From there, UNC failed to hit its last two shots and capped off the game by missing at the buzzer in the 61-53 loss.
Who stood out?
Abolins led the Tar Heels in scoring with 13 points, albeit on only 5-14 shooting. Will Tyndall and Noah McKenzie added eight points of their own, while Lucas Siegel chipped in with six points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
Taylor led Flight 22 Prep with 24 points, while also adding four steals. Mikhail Pocknett fought through early foul trouble to finish with 13 points and two steals.
When was it decided?
Turnovers were the key problem for the Tar Heels. Flight 22 forced 24 of them, with ten being live-ball steals. Those turnovers led to 24 points, with 21 points coming from fast breaks.
In the half court, the Tar Heels were mostly able to stop Flight 22 due to their matchup zone. However, the inability to control the ball, specifically in the first half, allowed for Flight 22 to build a comfortable lead that was hard to overcome.
UNC cut into Flight 22's lead late in the game, but could not hit timely shots. Flight 22 ended the game on a 14-7 run in large part thanks to the Tar Heels' shooting slump.
Why does it matter?
The loss moves the JV program to 2-1 and serves as the team’s first close game of the season. The Tar Heels will play again on Friday against Athletes In Action at 3:45 p.m. prior to the Varsity team’s game against College of Charleston.
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