FAYETTEVILLE – This isn’t the ending Havelock boys’ basketball coach Bill Fryczynski had hoped for.
But, it’s the furthest this program has gone since the 1991-92 season.
The Rams lost to Wilson Hunt 68-60 in the 3A Eastern Regional semifinals on Wednesday at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville.
“The last time I was involved in a final eight, I was 22 years old and in college. This reminded me of that,” Fryczynski said. “You have the big venue, people wanting to talk to you all the time.
“I will remember this to my dying day.”
After 13 seasons as head coach, Fryczynski was on Havelock’s sidelines for the final time.
The sixth-seeded Rams (19-7) finish the season with 19 wins, including victories in 19 of 21 games since the football players returned in December.
“It is a tough way to end a season but everybody goes through it except the one who wins the whole sha-bang,” Fryczynski said. “We had a great run and accomplished things that no other Havelock team has accomplished in quite a while.
“I’m proud of how we conducted ourselves this season.”
Kyran Bowman scored 30 points, but was 1-of-9 from 3-point range, and pulled down 12 rebounds. Brother Micheal Bowman scored 12.
The Rams have just three seniors on its roster. Twin brothers Jordan and Julian Cuthbertson accompanied Fryczynski to the post-game press conference.
“It hurts a little bit, knowing we got this far and were so close,” said Julian Cuthbertson, who scored three points. “These guys have the will to win and they want to be great.”
Kyran Bowman scored 17 points in the first half, keeping the Rams within four points at halftime.
A 3-pointer by Bowman cut Havelock’s deficit to 19-13 after the first eight minutes. The Rams closed the gap to two late in second quarter, but settled for a 34-30 deficit at halftime.
Third-seeded Hunt (24-3) outscored Havelock 14-7 in the third quarter to build an 11-point advantage.
Havelock trimmed Hunt’s lead to 65-60 with 18 seconds remaining, but the Warriors converted their free throws in the waning seconds to seal the win.
“It’s a tough way to go out,” said Jordan Cuthberton. “I know these boys will be back. These are some of the hardest boys I’ve ever played with.”
Havelock turned the ball over 21 times and were outrebounded 40-37.
“That’s the name of the game,” Fryczynski said. “When you get past the first round of the state playoffs, you don’t have any cupcakes left. When it comes down to this level, it’s a matter of mistakes, making stops and having the will to win. We had the will to win. We just made too many mistakes.”
Havelock’s defense forced 26 turnovers, but the Rams were 4-of-20 from 3-point range.
Josh Willingham led Hunt with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Justin Jefferson scored 17 and Quan Ken scored 10.
Hunt (24-3) plays either Orange or West Brunswick on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the state semifinals at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville.
Havelock 13 17 7 23 – 60
Wilson Hunt 19 13 14 20 – 68
HAVELOCK (60): Kyran Bowman 30, Micheal Bowman 12, Keion Joyner 1, Matt Boykin 3, Jordan Cuthbertson 3, Shondel Granison 9, Jordan Begley 2.
WILSON HUNT (68): Quan Kent 10, Justin Jefferson 17, Keenon Tabron 7, Josh Willingham 18, Jaylen Gilliam 8, Orlando Dickens 4, Dexter Wright 4.
Team statistics: Rebounds – Havelock 37 (Kyran Bowman 12), Hunt 40 (Williamham 12, Wright 10). 3-pointers – Havelock 4 (Kyran Bowman, Boykin, Granison, Jo. Cuthbertson), Hunt 1 (Jefferson). Turnovers – Havelock 21, Hunt 26. Records – Havelock 19-7, Hunt 24-3.
Adam Thompson is a reporter for the Sun Journal.