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Lady Rams surprise Pungo

AHOSKIE – Ridgecroft School sent an early message here Tuesday night.

The Lady Rams knocked off one of the pre-season favorites in the Tarheel Independent Conference – Pungo Christian Academy – to stake an early claim to the league lead. Senior Emily Cooke poured in 26 points to lead all scorers as the Lady Rams won 46-25 in the friendly confines of Revelle Gymtorium.

Miller Bryant got things going for Ridgecroft with a hoop just 10 seconds into the contest, but the Lady Raiders answered with an Allison Armstrong hoop 10 seconds later. Another exchange – this time between Cooke and PCA’s Tess Smithwick – left the game tied at four-all.

A Brice Harrison free throw made it 5-4 Rams, but Smithwick hit two on the other end to give Pungo its only lead of the game with four minutes to play.

Cooke then took over the remainder of the period, scoring four straight hoops over two minutes to push Ridgecroft ahead 13-6. A Jenna Sadler free throw made it 13-7 after one quarter of play.

The Rams got a hoop from Cooke to open the second quarter, but missed six straight free throws that could have helped them pull further away. Melanie Harris scored for PCA with 3:09 to play to close the gap to 15-9.

Again the Rams used the latter part of a quarter to pad their advantage as Tayler Smith hit the front end of a 1-plus-1 and Cooke scored two buckets in the closing minutes to give Ridgecroft a 20-9 halftime lead.

Bryant started the third quarter with a triple for the Rams that was followed by a Harrison hoop to push Ridgecroft ahead 25-9 with 6:53 to play in the period.

Jodi Rose’s triple helped the Raiders close the gap, but Cooke than rolled off three straight hoops as part of a 10-0 Ridgecroft run. Harrison scored on the spurt as well and the Lady Rams led 35-12 with 4:05 to play in the third quarter.

Armstrong finally stopped the run with a hoop at the 1:39 mark and Jordan Dunbar scored as well, but a Sara Hackney hoop for the Rams gave the home team a 37-16 lead heading into the final period.

Armstrong, who paced Pungo with 10 points, started the fourth quarter with a hoop, but it was immediately answered by Smith at the other end of the floor. The Lady Raiders outscored Ridgecroft 5-2 over the next three minutes thanks to a hoop by Smithwick and free throws from Armstrong, but Harrison sealed the Ridgecroft victory with a three-pointer at the one-minute mark.

In addition to Cooke’s 26 points, The Lady Rams got eight from Harrison and five each from Smith and Bryant. Hackney added two points.

Pungo had 10 points from Armstrong and six from Smithwick while Rose added three. Dunbar, Sadler and Harris had two points each.

Ridgecroft (3-2, 1-0) hosted Halifax Academy in a non-conference affair last night (Wednesday) but will return to TIC play Friday when they host Lawrence Academy who is also 1-0 in the league.