Chargers bury Trojans by 40 in 2nd round behind Frazier’s 26-point coming out party

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PITTSBORO — Over the last few years, Northwood’s been a program chock-full of stars.

From Aaron Ross and Dedric “Deuce” Powell of the 2019-2020 state semifinal team to the sterling freshman trio of Jarin Stevenson, Drake Powell and Fred Whitaker Jr. of last year’s state runner-up squad, the Chargers are no strangers to incredible individual talent.

Yet, as important as the stars are, it’s the players who often fall under the radar — those who constantly improve, game after game — that are crucial in building a team fit to win a state title.

And after last Thursday’s 80-40 stomping of the 11th-seeded West Brunswick Trojans in the second round of the NCHSAA 3A state playoffs it’s safe to say this may be the 6th-seeded Chargers’ best shot at a ring yet.

The Northwood blowout was primarily led by junior Max Frazier, who dropped 26 points — including 10 of the Chargers’ 12 points in the second quarter — in a career game that acted as a showcase for his length, size and explosiveness.

For context, he averaged 7.9 points going into the the game.

“I felt like he was a lot more aggressive tonight on the boards, as well as on offense, and it’s something that we haven’t seen out of Max since the Seaforth game,” Matt Brown, Northwood’s head coach, said after the win, referring to the season-opener against Seaforth, where Frazier scored 16 points. “We’ve been trying to get that out of him this year, but he’s coming around at the right time.”

At times, it felt like the 6-foot-8 junior was nearly unstoppable.

In the second quarter, Frazier scored the last four field goals for the Chargers, including a seemingly effortless putback dunk that electrified the bench and the pro-Northwood crowd.

While the Trojans were knocking down 3-pointers, Frazier continued to pile it on down low, exploiting West Brunswick’s height disadvantage and rendering their sharp shooting meaningless.

“I felt like I was being more aggressive out there,” Frazier said. “I feel like now, since it’s the playoffs, I need to get more serious so we can win.”

“If he keeps playing like that,” Brown added, “I like our chances.”

Frazier was joined in double figures by a few players, one of whom was junior Kenan Parrish (12 points), who Brown credits as one of his most improved players this season as he continues to add elements to his game, including hook shots and short jumpers.  

Standing at 6-foot-11, Parrish has already been nightmare for opposing shooters and defenders alike — expanding his skillset only makes that statement truer.

“It’s just getting in the gym and working every day,” Parrish said. “I like my right hook and I go to that a lot, so I just get in there early morning and work on that all of the time. … I do work on my jumpshot. I love shooting, I think I’m a pretty good shooter, but I do like to get inside mainly, because that’s where I’m strongest.”

Frazier and Parrish are near-perfect complements to the Chargers star sophomore guards Whitaker (17 points) and Drake Powell (15 points), each of whom bring the leadership, energy and swagger to the court in just their second season with the team.

It didn’t take long for the Chargers’ savvy sophomores to bring the heat on Thursday.

To open the game, Powell knocked down his lone 3-pointer and slammed home a dunk that sent shock waves through the gym, with the loudest cheers coming from Northwood’s student section, nicknamed “The Nuthouse,” which has consistently shown out for the streaking Chargers this season.

When a Charger slams one down — as was the case multiple times against the Trojans from Powell, Frazier and Parrish — it even gives Brown a reason to smile and awe at his players.

“I get excited for those guys whenever they do something really cool or really fun,” Brown said. “Some of the things that they’re doing now as sophomores and juniors is incredible. It really is. They’re so young and doing some of these things, it’s pretty neat to see.”

To start the second quarter, the Chargers led 26-10 following a 14-4 run to end the opening period.

The Chargers led off the second with a bucket in the paint from Frazier, followed by another score from Parrish to give them a 30-10 lead as they looked to be cruising.

Then came the Frazier putback dunk, burying the gym with energy-filled screams from the stands.

But 3-pointers from Trojans sophomore Martavious Stanley and junior Kevon Daniels (who led the team with 15 points) kept them afloat, fighting off Northwood’s attempt to end this one early.

Whitaker came alive in the third quarter, however, draining one of his two 3-pointers in the quarter on one of the Chargers’ first possessions — following up a Parrish dunk — to put his team ahead by 20.

In total, he had 7 points in the third period alone, while Powell added 8 and Frazier had 7 of his own in what was a masterful 25-point quarter for Northwood.

Late in the period, the Trojans were in deep foul trouble, allowing the Chargers to shoot eight free throws in the final 1:27, of which Northwood made seven.

When the buzzer finally rang, the Chargers had a 63-33 lead and there was little doubt that they’d be moving on to the next round.

In what looked to be a fun-filled fourth quarter, the Chargers obliterated their opponents, 17-7, to finish off the 40-point victory and advance to the third round of the NCHSAA 3A state playoffs.

“It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to coach, it’s fun to come to practice every day,” Brown said of the tight-knit group he has with this team. “They love each other.”

The 40-point win is Northwood’s largest since its 79-35 win over Eastern Alamance on Feb. 8 and just its third victory by 40-plus points in the last three seasons.

And it happened to come in the playoffs, of all places.

Northwood is in the midst of a deep playoff run for its fourth season in a row, having locked in a Sweet 16 spot each year since 2018-19.

“I’m very, very proud of them,” Brown said. “They just have fun and go out and play hard.”

The Chargers went on to face No. 3 First Flight in Kill Devil Hills last Saturday, crushing the Nighthawks in the Sweet 16 of the NCHSAA 3A playoffs, 74-38.

Northwood will head to Morehead City to face the No. 2 West Carteret Patriots in the tournament’s Elite Eight on Tuesday, March 1, which will take place after the News + Record’s press deadline.

Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at vhensley@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.

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