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Johnston basketball teams head into playoffs

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CHAPEL HILL — Four boys teams and four girls teams from Johnston County earned spots in the state basketball playoffs, the N.C. High School Athletic Association announced Sunday evening.

After an undefeated season in the Greater Neuse River Conference, the Clayton boys earned the highest seeding of any Johnston team, securing the No. 4 bid in the 3-A East Region.

Entering the playoffs, the Comets have not lost a game since Nov. 26, winning 21 straight to earn a high seed. A home-court advantage could await the Comets moving forward.

Only three teams ranked above the Comets in the 3-A playoffs — Fayetteville Westover, which earned the top seed, followed by No. 2 Wilmington New Hanover and No. 3 Pittsboro Northwood. As long as it wins, Clayton would continue to host playoff games until it reached a matchup with one of those schools. The team was scheduled to host No. 29 Harnett Central on Tuesday.

Also from the Greater Neuse River, South Johnston (21-4) locked up the No. 12 seed in the 3-A East after a runner-up finish in conference play behind Clayton. Cleveland (15-11) is the No. 27 seed with an at-large bid and was scheduled to travel to No. 6 West Carteret on Tuesday.

The Princeton boys basketball team (19-4) locked in the No. 8 seed in the 1-A ranks after a 19-4 finish in the regular season.

The Bulldogs rampaged through the Carolina Conference, finishing 12-0 and clinching their second-consecutive conference title before entering the playoffs. But things get tougher from here for a program that has dominated the competition.

Girls playoffs

The Princeton girls (19-3) earned the highest seed among Johnston County girls teams, locking in the No. 6 seed in the East Region of the 1-A playoffs.

The Bulldogs, champions of the Carolina Conference, entered the playoffs on a 13-game win streak. They were scheduled to host Rocky Mount Prep on Tuesday.

Out of the same conference, Neuse Charter (16-5) locked in the No. 15 seed and was scheduled to host No. 18 Durham Voyager Academy on Tuesday.

In 3-A, Clayton will represent the Greater Neuse River Conference as the No. 7 seed after capturing a share of the regular-season conference title. The school was to host No. 26 Vance County on Tuesday.

The North Johnston girls team earned the second-to-last position in the 2-A playoff bracket as the No. 31 seed in the East. The Panthers were set to travel to No. 2 Randleman on Tuesday.

This issue of the Johnstonian News went to press before the teams played their first-round games.

Teams that advance will play their second-round games on Thursday. The higher seed in those match-ups will host the game.