FAYETTEVILLE – Most of Havelock’s basketball players have been in pressure situations. They are three-time defending state champions in football.
That expectation of excellence has carried over to the basketball court.
For the first time since 1992, Havelock’s basketball team will play in the Eastern Regionals. The Rams play Wilson Hunt at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville.
“It’s a great honor,” Havelock coach Bill Fryczynski said at Monday’s regionals press conference. “There is not the same kind of tradition here in basketball that there is in football at Havelock. Because we have a group of athletes that are talented in other sports, we are looking forward to it.
“I haven’t been in this atmosphere in quite a while, since I was in Jersey.”
Since the football season ended, the basketball-playing Rams (19-6) have won 19 of their 20 games. Sophomore Kyran Bowman is averaging more than 24 points and eight rebounds per game. Micheal Bowman is posting more than 14 points per game and Keion Joyner is putting up nearly nine points per game.
“When you have players who were in a championship situation in one sport where they are expected to win, I think that carries over to the next sport,” Fryczynski said.
In 13 years as Havelock’s head basketball coach, Fryczynski said this is his most talented team.
The sixth-seeded Rams beat Rocky Mount 80-79 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Kyran Bowman last week in the second round. Then in Friday’s third round, Havelock topped Terry Sanford 59-53.
“We have a very athletic and quick team,” Fryczynski said. “We have kids who really know how to play basketball, and they are a bunch of kids who are fun to be around.
“They are a very resilient bunch.”
Second-seeded Wilson Hunt (23-3) has won 18 in a row and hasn’t lost since December.
The Warriors have four players averaging double figures in points – Quan Kent (13.4), Keenon Tabron (12.2), Justin Jefferson (12.1) and Josh Willingham (11.3).
“They have some size, but not tremendous size. They have a basketball tradition, so we are going to have our hands full, I am sure,” Fryczynski said. “We are going to play our game. I like to know what kind of defense they are going to play, what their style is and what to expect from them.
“It’s not going to change us in any major way.”
The winner advances to play the winner between top-seeded Orange (25-5) and fifth-seeded West Brunswick (20-7) in the regional championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday in Fayetteville, with the winner of that contest advancing to the state championship game.
Adam Thompson is a reporter for the Sun Journal.