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Bethel girls advance

ASKEWVILLE – Moving on.

Bethel Christian Academy’s varsity girls did just that Thursday night. The Lady Eagles downed Riverside 34-28 in the first round of the North Carolina Christian Athletic Conference state playoffs.

The Lady Eagles, seeded fourth, used balanced scoring to defeat Riverside. Landis Marsh and Charitee Dunlow scored eight points each and Megan Simons added six. Elizabeth Farmer, Kelsie Conner and Jessica Howerton added four each.

Riverside was led by 10 points from Amber Emanuel and Jana Murray’s seven.

After giving up an early score, Bethel got back-to-back hoops from Simons and Marsh to surge ahead 4-3.

Riverside, however, scored four unanswered to go ahead 7-4 before Simons hit 1-of-2 from the line to get the Lady Eagles within 7-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Riverside got the first bucket of the second quarter from Murray, but Dunlow answered with a bucket for the Lady Eagles. Marsh scored moments later to deadlock the game at nine-all. Simons, a senior playing in her final state tournament, hit a free throw that gave BCA the lead.

Riverside responded with a bucket by Brittany Mercer, but Howerton put the Lady Eagles back in front just seconds later. After a Simons’ free throw, Riverside got a hoop from Emery Brayboy to tie the score at 13-all.

Bethel closed out the quarter with five unanswered thanks to hoops from Dunlow and Howerton and a free throw from Simons. They led 18-13 at the break.

Dunlow and Farmer had back-to-back buckets to open the second half as Bethel extended their lead. Farmer then added two shots from the charity stripe as BCA grabbed a 24-13 advantage.

Riverside scored the next five points to close the gap to six, but Conner stopped the run with a bucket of her own. Emanuel and Conner exchanged hoops as the third quarter came to a close with Bethel leading 25-20.

The fifth-seeded Riverside club scored first in the fourth quarter, but never got closer than four (32-28) late in the game.

The Lady Eagles advanced to the Final Four with the win where they will meet top-seeded Gramercy Christian. That game finished too late for