Beddingfield bests Bertie
WILSON – Full circle.
Four years ago in Windsor Bertie High’s girl’s basketball team played Wilson’s E.T. Beddingfield High School and came away with a win.
Every year since that last early post-season loss, the Lady Bruins have advanced at least as far as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) Eastern Regional. And now, thanks to a 71-47 win over the Lady Falcons on Friday night in the Sectional final in Wilson, Beddingfield heads back to Greenville again.
&uot;I told (our senior} that you were a freshman the last time you beat them, and you have a chance to do it again tonight,&uot; said boys basketball coach Calvin Moore, substituting for Alice Lyons – who missed her second straight playoff game attending family business out of state. &uot;Somebody’s season will end tonight.&uot;
Unfortunately, it was Bertie’s; despite the Falcons finishing another outstanding campaign at 18-8.
Leading from the opening basket – a three-pointer – Beddingfield went on to score the impressive victory, which tainted a remarkable 23-point performance from junior guard, Tiera Brown, who lead all scorers, but was the only Falcon to score in double figures.
Satora Swain closed out her high school career scoring seven points as did teammate, Ayanna Wilson. Yashanti Bridgers had six points and 12 big rebounds.
With a crowd of over 400 fans on hand, some three dozen cheering loudly for Bertie, the game featured the Lady Falcons against the ‘juggernaut’ team with a three-year record of 84-3, and led by 6’-4” senior center, Jean Best. The Bruins had lost only once this season – in their Eastern Carolina Conference tournament final against Eastern Wayne.
But coach Moore would hardly say the game came down to intimidation.
&uot;I came into the game knowing they were one of the top teams in the east, maybe in the state,&uot; said Moore, &uot;but you come into every game wanting to win. There were some things we didn’t do like being aggressive. We weren’t aggressive enough.&uot;
Beddingfield jumped out to a 5-0 start and a zone defense, but the Brown picked up her dribble and wasn’t afraid to launch arching jumpers over the taller-by-a-foot Best and with three swift buckets trimmed the lead to 7-6.
Beddingfield answered that with an 11-2 run as coach Debra Pegram switched her defense to a man-to-man to counter Brown. Bertie collected three-pointers from senior Swain and freshman Wilson, but it wasn’t enough as the Bruins closed out the quarter up, 20-14.
After a three-point basket to open the second quarter pushed Beddingfield to a nine-point lead, Bertie center Bridgers scored what would be her final field goal of the night on a put-back over Best 30 seconds into the quarter.
But the Falcons did not score again for five minutes, only breaking the drought with a pair of Swain free-throws with two-and-a-half minutes left, as Beddingfield went on another 11-2 run. Despite Bertie’s scoring the last four points of the quarter, the teams went into the break with Beddingfield ahead, 35-23.
In the third quarter, Best – who’d played a quiet game, mostly on defense, in the first half – began to assert herself in the paint as Bertie’s offense again failed to ignite. She scored 10 points in the quarter, six of them coming on Shaq-like moves for lay-ups on Bridgers in the low post despite cat-calls from the Bertie fans for fouls. With her effort, the Bruins doubled the score entering the final quarter, 58-29.
&uot;With a big girl like No. 43 (Best) they have a star player,&uot; mused Moore, &uot;and they (the refs) let the stars play. If you don’t match up, they let you play.&uot;
Down but not out in the final frame, Bertie scored seven quick points, but Beddingfield upped the margin to their biggest lead at 29, 67-38. Montreshia Perry and Brown closed the game with some valiant jump shots, but this one went into the books as an easy Beddingfield win. They out-rebounded Bertie, 45-29, and shot 42 percent to Bertie’s 35 percent.
&uot;It was really over in the third quarter,&uot; reasoned Moore, &uot;because we really just didn’t have enough weapons to put the ball in the basket. But give it to ‘Twin’ (Brown’s nickname), she played with the heart of a lion. I told her to just be aggressive and see what happens.&uot;
Despite the season-ending loss, Moore closed his comments on an up-note – perhaps with a warning to opponents, or maybe a challenge to the returning players.
&uot;All of them are coming back except one,&uot; he said with a wry smile, &uot;and if they do all the things they need to do someone will start looking at us.&uot;
Lady Bruins (71): Monique Spry – 22, Jean Best – 16, Ansia Dial – 15, Casey Elliot – 6, Olivia Frazier – 5, Vielka Givens – 4, Shaniquia Clay – 3
Lady Falcons (47): Tiera Brown – 23, Satora Swain – 7, Ayanna Wilson – 7, Yahsanti Bridgers – 6, Montreshia Perry – 4