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Cardinal Gibbons boys, girls sweep Overhills in rare NCHSAA second-round doubleheader

Cardinal Gibbons boys’ basketball coach Brent Nolan promised his daughter Finley a cupcake following the Crusaders’ 77-46 wire-to-wire win over Overhills of Spring Lake in Friday’s second-round N.C. 4A state playoff game. Finley, who will turn 3 on June 15, could have made a doubly compelling case for three cupcakes after her dad’s team netted 13 3-pointers to complete a rare, symmetrical doubleheader sweep in the school’s Father Thomas Frederick Price Gymnasium.

Cardinal Gibbons’ girls and boys, both seeded seventh, welcomed both of Overhills’ 10th-seeded teams. The Crusaders girls prevailed 53-44 to set the stage for a historic double. Cardinal Gibbons’ girls’ and boys’ teams advanced to the 4A state playoffs’ third round in the same season for the first time ever.

Cardinal Gibbons boys run out to fast start

The Crusader boys scored the game’s first 16 points and netted five 3-pointers en route to a 28-4 lead after one quarter. Jacob Wayand (12 points) converted three of his four 3-pointers in the opening stanza, including a top-of-the-key splash at the period’s buzzer. Aiden Smalls’ (14) left-wing step-back 3-pointer beat the second-quarter buzzer and set a 40-13 halftime score.

Cardinal Gibbons’ Cash McSweeney (15) slams home two points against Overhills in a NCHSAA 4A second round playoff game. Cardinal Gibbons and Overhills met in a NCHSAA 4A second round playoff game in Raleigh, N.C. on March 1, 2024.
Cardinal Gibbons’ Cash McSweeney (15) slams home two points against Overhills in a NCHSAA 4A second round playoff game. Cardinal Gibbons and Overhills met in a NCHSAA 4A second round playoff game in Raleigh, N.C. on March 1, 2024.

“They’re such a smart group of basketball players,” Nolan said. “They’ve just been raised on basketball. If you can have the courage to trust them, then the sky is the limit.”

Cardinal Gibbons’ Damon Phillips (12) and Trey Jones (7) rained from the sky four and two three-pointers, respectively. Cash McSweeney matched his jersey number with a game-high 15 points, including one of the Crusaders’ fourth quarter beyond-the-arc connections. Brendan Downes made the other trifecta.

“If we play like that every night, bring that same energy, and play that defense that we did tonight, then we can play with anybody,” Cardinal Gibbons’ Ronny Turner, who had nine points, said.

Chet Yardley had four points and Owen Hines had one to complete the Crusaders’ scoring.

Overhills (16-12), which converted its lone 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, was paced by Jordan Bryant (10 points).

Cardinal Gibbons’ Sarah Maciariello (4) drives between Overhills’ Najiha Allen (4) and Anaiah Mcgee (10) during the first half. Cardinal Gibbons and Overhills met in a NCHSAA 4A second round playoff game in Raleigh, N.C. on March 1, 2024.
Cardinal Gibbons’ Sarah Maciariello (4) drives between Overhills’ Najiha Allen (4) and Anaiah Mcgee (10) during the first half. Cardinal Gibbons and Overhills met in a NCHSAA 4A second round playoff game in Raleigh, N.C. on March 1, 2024.

Crusaders’ girls win thriller

Cardinal Gibbons’ girls (21-7) rallied from a 13-8 deficit after the first quarter and outscored the Jaguars in the second, third, and fourth periods. The Crusaders’ sophomore tandem of Charlotte Fusco and Tessa Gladieux shared leading roles from the first and second halves.

Fusco scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the first half to help the Crusaders pull within one point (25-24) by halftime. Gladieux netted nine of her 15 points in the fourth quarter to extend Cardinal Gibbons’ 39-32 lead entering the final stanza.

Sarah Maciarello scored eight of her 12 points in the third quarter during which the Crusaders outscored Overhills, 15-7.

“They’re resilient. They’re tough. They play for each other. We always know they’re going to give everything they have on the floor,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Cheryl Reid said. “Whether the basket goes in or not, they’re going to make up for it on defense. We just are in awe of their toughness.”

Mya Lemons had eight points and Kathryn Van Burik added two to complete the Crusaders’ scoring.

Overhills (16-11) got 15 points from Anaiah McGhee and 11 from Aniyah Mason.

School history

Cardinal Gibbons’ boys (18-7), who advanced to the 1A state quarterfinals in 1982 and 1983, qualified for their second 4A third round game — the first of which came in 2017.

Cardinal Gibbons’ girls reached the 2008 2A state quarterfinals and 2014 3A third round. Reid’s older daughter Morgan was the starting point guard on the 2014 team, which included three eventual 1,000-point scorers: Morgan Reid, Madison Beuris, and Olivia Smith. Current assistant coach Jessica Lowe — the school’s all-time leading scorer among both girls and boys with 2,121 points — was the head coach of the 2008 and 2014 teams. The 2008 team included eventual 1,000-point scorers Melissa Shafer and Chloe Stapleton.

“It takes time to build up the confidence against these groups,” Nolan said of ascending to 4A competition, which Cardinal Gibbons did during the 2015-16 academic year. “To have both of our programs (reach the third round) at the same time in the same gym is beyond special.”

Photos: Cardinal Gibbons sweeps Overhills