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Eagles hand Ridgecroft first loss

AHOSKIE – It was the usual war.

When Northeast Academy and Ridgecroft School squared off in the semifinal round of the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament, the two teams went to the final horn as always.

This time the Lady Eagles ended Ridgecroft’s two-year unbeaten streak in the tournament and advanced to the championship game with a 41-38 victory.

It was senior Betty Edwards, playing in her final Brantley tournament, that provided the victory for Northeast as she scored 23 points to lead all scorers and hit the three-pointer that proved to be the game-winner with 1:40 to play in the contest.

Entering the final two minutes of play, the game was deadlocked at 36-all, but Ridgecroft took the lead when Tayler Smith converted two free throws with 1:57 to play.

Edwards responded with a three-pointer that put the Lady Eagles out front and then toed the free throw line to hit two shots that sealed the victory and sent Northeast to their second straight finals appearance.

The victory was a hard-earned one as the two teams battled evenly for most of the contest.

Ridgecroft was able to jump out to a 10-4 lead in the first quarter thanks to seven points from Emily Cooke, who led the Lady Rams with 13 points for the night.

The home team pushed their advantage to 16-6 with 3:10 to play in the second quarter when Bardin Murray hit from the floor.

Northeast, however, scored the final nine points of the period, coming from four different players. The Lady Eagles got points from Edwards, Jennifer Sykes, Taylor Cocke and Molly Hargrave to trim the deficit to 16-15.

The Lady Rams surged in the opening minute of the third quarter when Murray buried a triple to make it 19-15, but Northeast got five straight from Edwards moments later to deadlock the score at 21-all.

Callie Burgess put Northeast ahead with her field goal moments later and the two team lead changed hands seven times over the final moments of the third quarter.

Edwards’ three-pointer as the third quarter ended gave her team a 30-29 lead heading into the final period.

Sykes put the Lady Eagles ahead by three, but Murray’s free throw and a hoop by Cooke tied the score at 32-all with 6:01 to play.

Edwards and Brice Harrison exchanged buckets to leave the game tied at 24-all.

The Lady Rams suffered a tough outing from the free throw line, hitting on just six of 22 attempts or 27 percent.

In addition to Edwards’ game-high performance, Northeast got eight from Sykes, seven from Burgess, two from Hargrave and one from Cocke.

Cooke led Ridgecroft with 13 while Murray had 12 and Harrison contributed seven. Smith added four points and Kristina Cooper had two points.