FAYETTEVILLE – A little more than a year ago, Rocky Mount Prep forward Deshawn Freeman sat on the bench and watched as his team crumbled.
His injured leg has healed, and instead of being a spectator at the NCHSAA 1-A Eastern Regional championship, Freeman will play a major role as the Jaguars make their second straight appearance.
This year, they hope to make it one game further.
“We know we have a job to do,” Freeman said. “We still have unfinished business.”
No. 5 Rocky Mount Prep (22-3), which has won its four state playoffs games by an average of 24 points, will face No. 1 East Carteret at 2 p.m. today inside the Crown Arena in Fayetteville.
The Jaguars defeated Camden on Thursday in the Eastern Regional semifinal. The 31-point victory was Rocky Mount Prep’s third 30-plus point win in the state playoffs so far.
“I think they’re focused,” Rocky Mount Prep coach Don Reams said. “If they’re like me, they know we have unfinished business. They know it.”
The message seems to be clear, and with Freeman, who was courted by half a dozen college coaches Wednesday night, the Jaguars seem ready to make school history.
Only athletics director Warren Davis stuck around to watch the end of East Carteret’s victory against Pamlico.
The rest of the team filed out of Crown Arena at halftime Wednesday, with East Carteret (24-5) already out to a comfortable lead.
“Everybody is anxious that was on the team last year,” senior guard Jacob Barrett said. “I know the core six will be ready to play because this is where our season ended last year. We want to get a ring.”
From Day 1, the Jaguars’ goal was to win the state championship.
In the process, Rocky Mount Prep would have to exercise a demon – the Eastern Regional championship – and make school history.
Rocky Mount Prep never has played for a state championship in any sport.
“This will be our opportunity,” Reams said. “Hopefully, we take care of business.”
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org