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Rams outlast Warriors

MERRY HILL – Ridgecroft did a good job distributing the basketball Tuesday night.

Lawrence Academy did a good job making sure the Rams had to distribute it.

Despite a solid defensive performance from both clubs, Ridgecroft got the Tarheel Independent Conference opening win with a 57-35 victory over Lawrence.

Both Ridgecroft coach Doug Cobbs and Lawrence skipper Charlie Harden said the difference in the game likely came in the closing minutes of the first half.

With Ridgecroft clinging to a two-point advantage (18-16), April Piland grabbed back-to-back steals, hitting Jessica Bolton for one score and laying the other one up herself to give the Rams a 22-16 lead at the intermission.

“Those two late steals by April really hurt us,” Harden said. “Defensively, we did what we wanted in the first half, but offensively we struggled.”

Cobbs agreed.

“The difference in the first half was April Piland,” he said. “She came in at the end of the first half and took the game over. The entire second unit came in and held their own and that’s what we needed.”

The Lady Warriors held Ridgecroft’s top offensive threat, Hayes Bryant, to two points in the first half, but she exploded for 14 in the second period to lead the Rams.

Lauren Lilley, who had 10 points on the night, started the scoring in the second half for Ridgecroft, but was quickly answered by Kendall Street on the other end.

Bryant then scored the next three points followed by consecutive hoops from Jo Revelle Murray that gave Ridgecroft a 31-18 advantage.

Street scored to stop the run, but only momentarily as Victoria Brown, Lilley and Caitlin Harrison all scored to give the Rams a 36-20 lead. Taylor Davis’ hoop for Lawrence trimmed the deficit to 36-22 at the end of three quarters.

Street scored to open the fourth period, but Ridgecroft answered with six straight points, four of which came from Bryant.

After another Street hoop, Kristen Cayton scored three points in a row to give Ridgecroft a 45-26 edge.

Again, Street scored to end the Lawrence drought, but Bryant responded with a free throw and two consecutive hoops. She was followed by a free throw from Harrison and scores from Piland and Bardin Murray as the Rams went ahead 57-28.

Street and Debbie Stotesbury combined to score seven unanswered for Lawrence over the closing minutes as the final of 57-35 was established.

“I thought at times our defense was very good and at times we were too lax,” Cobbs said. “Overall, though I was pleased.”

Harden was also pleased with his team’s effort on the defensive end.

“In the first half, we had a defensive scheme and I thought we executed it well,” he said. “It took us a while to get going offensively.

“In the second half, I was still satisfied with our defense, but I thought we got tired and they created turnovers,” he added. “Once we had dead legs, it was hard to execute. We have to find a way to play two halves.”

One bright spot for the Rams was the return of Kristen Cayton, who was injured Friday night. What was thought to be a fractured arm turned out to be a deep bruise. Cobbs said that was important for his team.

“We’ve worked with Kristen in the last week,” he said. “She had developed a lot more confidence. If she couldn’t play, I think it would have been devastating to this team.”

The win pushed Ridgecroft to 6-0 on the season and 1-0 inside the TIC. Lawrence is now 4-4 and 0-1 in the league.

Lady Rams (57): Hayes Bryant n 16, Lauren Lilley n 10, K. Cayton n 6, A. Piland n 6, V. Brown n 4, B. Murray n 4, J. Murray n 4, C. Harrison n 4, J. Bolton n 3, K. Cooper

Lady Warriors (35): Kendall Street n 23, D. Stotesbury n 6, L. Eubanks n 4, T. Davis n 2, S. Gillam, C. Mizell, J. Harden