Bertie girls win sectional title

Published 1:04 pm Friday, March 5, 2010

WINDSOR – Six years.

That’s how long it’s been since the Bertie High girls basketball team advanced to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association regionals in Greenville.

The team they had to beat in the sectional final to get there: Wilson Beddingfield.

Interestingly, in the five previous years Beddingfield had not missed a regional, including 2008 when they beat Bertie in the 3-A sectional final in Wilson.

So it came down to the two old rival schools – familiar with one another since their days shared as members of the old Big Eight Conference – and this time Bertie was the better team, winning in a rout, 70-45.

The Lady Falcons did it with balanced scoring, led by senior Ya’shanti Bridgers with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Ayanna Wilson had 14, with Monica Outlaw and Eboni Bond chipping in with a dozen points apiece, with 10 from Montreshia Perry.

Casey Elliott of Beddingfield led all scorers with 28 points and six rebounds.

“I told them to just give me all they’ve got and leave it all on the court,” said an emotional Bertie coach Alice Lyons after the post-game celebration. “They stepped up to the call,” she added, “every single one of them.

“I’m so proud of those girls.”

Though Bertie’s shooting was erratic in the early going, missing their first five shot attempts, and they ran into foul trouble, the Lady Falcons were ahead by a point, 8-7, midway through the first quarter when they went on a 17-0 scoring barrage and never looked back from there.

Defensively, it was a tough stretch for the Lady Bruins as Beddingfield’s zone was ripped apart with Bertie’s outside shooting thanks to Outlaw’s three-point shooting, and they fared no better in the man-to-man because of Bertie’s quickness.

Early in the second quarter Bridgers got a pair of low post buckets to put Bertie up, 25-8 before Beddingfield coach Deborah Peagram called timeout. Bertie then became foul-prone and Beddingfield closed with a run to trail 32-19 at the break.

Fouls again plagued Bertie in the third quarter, but their shooting made up for it. Bridgers played with two fouls, but still scored on a key three-point play in the paint to stake Bertie to a 44-26 lead.

Meanwhile, Beddingfield was missing on everything from layups to put-backs, to jump shots. Despite playing with a bruised hand, Elliott kept it from being an early blowout for the Lady Bruins with seven of Beddingfield’s nine third-quarter points.

Ahead 46-28 to begin the fourth quarter, Wilson, Perry and Bond controlled the outside while Bridgers and LaToya Gilliam roamed the middle. Beddingfield was forced to foul in a by now a state of catch-up, but Bertie converted 14-of-18 free throws in the final five minutes.

Wilson got Bertie’s last field goal, a layup with 3:24 to play to make it 63-40, before the Lady Falcons did the rest at the charity stripe, making 7-of-8 for the 25-point win.

“Nobody in our conference plays as physical as Bertie,” said Peagram after the game. “We got down and had to play catch-up, and this is a tough place to play catch-up.

“Body for body,” she added, “we just couldn’t compete with them tonight.”

“I told them before the game don’t let nobody come into your house and take away your joy,” said Lyons, finally managing a smile. “And they just went to work.”

Bertie (24-4) plays tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. in Greenville at J.H. Rose High School in the 2-A East Regional against Burlington Cummings (23-2).

A win by the Lady Falcons would send them into the final Saturday morning at the same site against the winner of the East Bladen (27-0) Bunn (20-6) game which follows tonight.