Woodlawn's Donte Dudley remembers the moment he heard about Poly's forfeit Thursday, which allowed the Warriors (23-1) to advance in the Class 4A playoffs.
"It almost brought tears to my eyes," said Dudley, a junior. "This time I knew I had to prove myself."
Dudley scored 39 points, tying a school record, and hit three three-pointers in the final minutes, but defending state 4A champion High Point (20-4) prevailed, 81-77, in Region II. The win advances the Eagles to the Class 4A semifinals Thursday at Cole Field House in College Park.
Eric Poole led the Eagles with 15 points. Division I prospect Kenny Avent and Jared Stinson added 13 each.
"He had a heck of a game," said High Point coach Ernie Welch said of Dudley. "Based on tonight, he'd be all-metro in our league."
The Eagles scored the first seven points of the second half to extend a 40-39 halftime lead to 47-40.
Woodlawn reponded when Dudley's layup and a two field goals by sophomore point guard Keon Carpenter brought the Warriors to within 47-45 with 5:44 left in the third quarter.
High Point quickly regained the advantage, running the lead to 67-54 with 6:57 left.
Woodlawn then cut the lead to 75-65, using five points by Dudley. Then Dudley caught fire.
Woodlawn hit four straight three-pointers, three by Dudley and one by Steve Jackson, to cut the lead to 80-77 with eight seconds left, but that was as close as the Warriors would get.
"We felt like we had to show that we deserve to play with the good teams," said Dudley. "After what they did to Lake Clifton [defeating the second-ranked Lakers by 21], we wanted to prove we deserved to be here."
Said Woodlawn coach Rod Norris: "Donte does what it takes. When he has his mind straight, it just keeps going in. He guarded a Division I prospect tonight [Avent] and kept him within reason [13 points]."
Dudley said: "We felt like we had something to prove tonight. No one gave us a chance, and we almost pulled it out. We played as hard as we could, and we will be back next year."
Said Norris: "I'm proud of the effort my team gave. We have 12 of our 15 players back, so I'm ready for next year."