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Eagles win second-place battle

MERRY HILL – Both teams used junk defenses.

Northeast kept Kendall Street under wraps with a tough defense and the Lady Warriors returned the favor by running a box-and-one on Betty Edwards.

It wasn’t those two, however, that did the damage as the Lady Eagles got 19 points from Callie Burgess to sweep their season series with Lawrence by a final of 37-31.

“We had a plan and, even though we had some lapses, for the most part I was really pleased with the way they handled themselves,” Northeast Academy Head Coach Joella Brown said. “We knew someone had to step up because they would be trying to take Betty out of the game. She was patient, took what come to her and that left openings for other players.

“We talked about someone needing to step up on offense whether that be one person or a group,” Brown continued. “If Callie hadn’t done it, I was confident it would have been someone else.”

The start was not as good as the finish for Northeast, however, as Lawrence raced out to an 11-4 lead in the first quarter by holding the Eagles to 2-of-7 shooting with 11 turnovers.

Kathryn Taylor was Lawrence’s key offensive weapon as she hit the first two shots of the game to stake the Warriors to the lead.

Burgess got the Eagles on the board with 4:07 to play, but Sarah Gillam was able to push the Lady Warriors back ahead by four.

After Burgess scored again, Street had back-to-back hoops and added a free throw to establish the 11-4 advantage.

The Warriors were the ones who went cold in the second quarter as they missed their first eight shots and ended the period 2-of-13 from the floor with 11 turnovers.

Five of those came over a two-minute stretch when Street was on the bench with three fouls and the Eagles went to a full-court press and pressure defense.

“When Kendall went out, we went to a press and man-to-man pressure,” Brown said. “When she was in, we sometimes had two people on her.”

During the stretch where the Eagles were pressing, they rallied from an 11-6 deficit to take a 15-12 lead.

Burgess was again the dominant offensive force with seven of the points while LeAnn Barnes added another pair. The Warriors got a single free throw from Debbie Stotesbury during the run.

When Street reentered the game with two minutes to play in the half, the Warriors scored twice and held the Eagles to pair of free throws, leaving Northeast with a single point advantage (17-16) at the intermission.

The third quarter was didn’t provide stellar shooting either with neither team shooting above 29 percent.

Taylor and Northeast’s Danielle Hallman exchanged hoops to open the quarter before the Warriors went on a 6-0 spurt. Leanne Eubanks, Kathryn Gilbert and Street all scored during the run to give Lawrence a 24-19 lead.

Northeast responded with the next six points to take a 25-24 lead into the final period.

Hallman and Molly Hargrave had free throws for Northeast while Burgess and Edwards each scored from the floor.

During that stretch, the Lady Warriors lost Eubanks to fouls.

After a Street free throw, Northeast got consecutive buckets from Burgess to take a 29-25 edge.

Moments later, Lawrence lost their second player to fouls when Taylor was assessed her fifth personal.

Hallman and Burgess added a pair of free throws, but Lawrence began their comeback efforts when Street and Gilbert had back-to-back hoops. Street then hit both ends of a 1-plus-1 to tie the game at 31-all with 3:09 to play.

Northeast got a hoop from Edwards and a free throw by Hallman to go back to a 34-31 lead. Moments later, Hallman fouled out for Northeast.

The Lady Warriors’ comeback efforts took a turn south when Street fouled out with 1:55 to go, leaving the Warriors with just four players.

Edwards converted shots from the free throw line to preserve the win for Northeast.

“We blocked out extremely well tonight,” Brown said. “We only allowed 14 second shots and that was key for us.”

The win boosted Northeast to 10-7 overall and 5-2 inside the Tarheel Independent Conference, which puts the Lady Eagles second in the league. The Lady Warriors fell to 9-9 and 5-3.

Lady Eagles (37): Callie Burgess n 19, Betty Edwards n 7, Danielle Hallman n 5, LeAnn Barnes n 3, Molly Hargrave n 3

Lady Warriors (31): Kendall Street n 12, Kathryn Taylor n 8, Kathryn Gilbert n 6, Sarah Gillam n 2, Leanne Eubanks n 2, Debbie Stotesbury – 1