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Lady Rams upset number two

CARY – Three-time defending state champion Gaston Day School was shown the door Thursday.

Ridgecroft School continued their post-season run by defeating the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association defending champions 45-42 in the quarter final round of the state 1-A tournament.

“It was a fun game,” Rams’ Head Coach Elton Winslow said. “It was fun to watch. It was fun to be a part of.

“The girls played with a lot of heart,” he added. “They have all year, but the last five games they have just shown so much heart.”

The Lady Rams fell behind 15-10 after one quarter, but dominated the second quarter to take control of the basketball game before the half.

“They got out to a 15-10 lead, but we got a few steals and got some rebounds in the second quarter and led 23-19 at the half,” Winslow said.

The Lady Rams could have faced disaster when senior Hayes Bryant, who is Ridgecroft’s leading scorer, went to the bench with four fouls early in the third quarter, but classmate April Piland took over the game.

Piland scored eight of her team-high 16 points in the third period.

“April simply took over,” Winslow said. “She was driving to the basket, pulling up in the lane, she just took over.”

Gaston Day tied the game at 42-all late, but Bryant went to the free throw line and hit a pair of shots and Piland made 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to seal the victory.

Winslow said his entire team gave a solid defensive effort, but was especially pleased with the play of Tayler Smith.

“Tayler had a fantastic game,” Winslow said. “Hayes was guarding their big girl and Tayler did an outstanding job of helping out.”

In addition to Piland’s 16 points, the Lady Rams got 12 from Emily Cooke, who was 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Jessica Bolton added seven, Bryant had six and Smith chipped in four points.

The win put Ridgecroft (19-12) into the semifinals of the NCISAA tournament where they met Tarheel Independent Conference regular-season champion Terra Ceia Christian School. TCCS also upset a higher-rated team when they knocked off number three Wayne Country Day School 55-44.

That game took place last night (Friday) at Cary Academy.

Lady Rams (45): April Piland n 16, Emily Cooke n 12, Jessica Bolton n 7, Hayes Bryant n 6, Tayler Smith n 4

Lady Spartans (42): Tenika Neely n 19, Lulu Brase n 13, Stacy Myers n 4, Dorothy Huffstetler n 2, Lauren Toole n 2, Erin Myer-Cuno – 2