A three-goal first half from Hibriten boosted them past Wilkes Central 4-0 in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A boys soccer playoffs on Wednesday night in Lenoir.

The No. 2 Panthers (22-1-2), who extended their unbeaten streak to 24 matches (after a season-opening loss to Hickory), quickly got on the board in the second minute behind a Gerardo Rodriguez.

Kevin Rios, who registered a hat trick, added goals in the 19th and 38th minutes to give Hibriten a 3-0 halftime lead. The sophomore added a goal off a corner kick in the 60th minute.

Central’s best first-half scoring opportunity came in the 40th minute as Brandon Lopez’ shot on goal just missed.

Tradin Allen had the best scoring opportunity for the No. 31 Eagles (10-12) in the second half but the senior shot was stopped by Mack Waters, Hibriten’s keeper.

Hibriten’s season will continue on Saturday against fellow Caldwell County and Northwestern Foothills Conference foe West Caldwell. The No. 15 Warriors defeated No. 18 Lincolnton 3-1.

In addition to the Eagles, No. 7 Ashe County fell 2-1 to No. 7 Carver in the 2A playoffs on Wednesday. Number 24 Elkin lost 3-0 in the 1A playoffs at No. 9 Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. Starmount garnered the No. 6 seed the 1A playoffs and received a first-round bye. The Rams will host No. 11 Bishop McGuinness on Saturday.

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