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Lady Rams defeat NEA

AHOSKIE – Hayes Bryant poured in 24 points.

Betty Edwards nearly matched the feat with 22 points.

The two scoring leaders matched each other almost bucket-for-bucket and their teams did almost the same.

In the end, Bryant’s Ridgecroft School varsity girls’ basketball team defeated Edwards and Northeast Academy 49-45.

The Lady Rams dominated the first half on their home court and then held on in the second half despite a tremendous comeback attempt from Northeast.

“I thought we played hard on the defensive end,” Rams’ coach Elton Winslow said. “On the offensive end, I thought we rushed shots. We just rushed everything and didn’t let the offense come to us.

“Northeast played a great second half,” he added. “We were able to keep them under wraps in the first half, but they played well. Betty Edwards is hard to control.”

Northeast led 2-0 in the early going after Edwards’ first hoop, but Bryant answered a minute later to tie the score.

Molly Hargrave gave the Eagles a lead they would enjoy until the end of the quarter with her bucket at the 3:28 mark.

Ridgecroft, however, grabbed a 7-6 advantage when April Piland scored with less than a minute to play in the first period.

The Lady Rams started to pull away in the second quarter, scoring the first nine points to grab a 16-6 advantage.

Edwards and Danielle Hallman stopped the streak with free throws that trimmed the deficit to 16-8.

After a Bryant free throw, Callie Burgess scored for Northeast to make it 17-10. The Rams extended it to 19-10 on two Tayler Smith free throws at the end of the half.

Both teams set a torrid pace in the third quarter with the teams shooting above 50 percent from the floor.

After Hargrave had a pair of free throws for Northeast, Bryant and Edwards traded baskets, leaving Ridgecroft ahead 21-14.

The advantage moved to eight (24-16) after a pair of Piland free throws, but Edwards pulled her team back within five on a three-pointer.

They continued to close the gap when Hargrave scored and was fouled. When she converted the free throw, it was 24-22. Edwards then tied the score at 24-all with 1:44 to play.

Ridgecroft wouldn’t surrender that easily, however, as Emily Cooke had a pair of free throws and Emily Revelle scored two buckets to give the Rams a 30-27 lead after three quarters.

Cooke pushed the Ridgecroft lead to five (32-27) early in the fourth quarter, but Northeast used a 6-0 run midway through the quarter to take a 41-38 advantage. Bryant hit back-to-back hoops to put the Rams back into the lead and then, after an Edwards bucket, converted a pair of free throws to make it 45-44.

Smith found the net with 50 seconds to play in the contest to give Ridgecroft a three-point lead. They were able to seal it from the free throw line after that.

“The hustle was there,” Northeast Head Coach Joella Brown said afterwards. “The turnovers really hurt us. We rushed a lot of things. Turnovers just killed us and so did free throw shooting.”

Northeast was 11-of-25 from the charity stripe.

She said she was pleased with the defensive effort and being able to limit Ridgecroft seniors Piland and Jessica Bolton.

“We split our two conference games,” Brown said. “You never know who is going to show up for either team when we play. It’s a nice rivalry.”

Winslow said he felt his team was improving as they head towards the end of the regular season.

“We’re playing better every game,” he said. “We have three left and we have to play hard in all of them.”

Lady Rams (49): Hayes Bryant n 24, Emily Cooke n 8, Tayler Smith n 5, Caitlyn Harrison n 4, Emily Revelle n 4, April Piland n 3, Jessica Bolton n 1

Lady Eagles (45): Betty Edwards n 22, Callie Burgess n 11, Molly Hargrave n 7, Lacey Pfeiffer n 2, Lori Coggins n 2, Danielle Hallman – 1