Cavaliers end Bertie season

Published 10:12 am Saturday, March 6, 2010

GREENVILLE – Call it the ‘Late, Late Show’ because when it was over the clock had struck midnight.

Playing in a game that didn’t begin until nearly 10 p.m. Wednesday night, Bertie High School’s girls basketball team came up short in their comeback and fell in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A East Regional semi-final to Burlington Cummings, 53-45.

The loss ended Bertie’s six-game win streak and brought down the curtain on the Lady Falcons’ outstanding 2009-10 season where it began, in Greenville.

After losing a 10-point second-half lead, Bertie fought back to tie the game with just under two minutes to play, but turnovers and poor shooting – which had been Bertie’s bugaboo all night – finally took their toll and Cinderella’s sneaker no longer fit.

“I tried everything I could there at the end,” said a disappointed coach Alice Lyons, “but in the end, we just didn’t respond.

“Nonetheless, I’m very proud of my girls.”

Because of postponements due to Tuesday’s weather the game was moved from J.H. Rose High School to East Carolina University’s Minges Coliseum, but with a tip-off after the regularly scheduled boys games; the last of which went into overtime.

Bertie got off to a good start: Monica Outlaw burying a three-pointer and Montreshia Perry later scoring on a three-point play to give the Lady Falcons a 6-2 lead. Later, after the first tie of the game, Perry’s layup had Bertie in front, 9-7.

But Cummings turned up the defense with a full-court press, leading to Bertie turnovers and the Lady Cavaliers began cashing in on the miscues at the other end to spark an 11-0 run that put Cummings in front after the first quarter, 19-9.

Early in the second quarter Cummings’ best post-player picked up two quick fouls and Bertie temporarily corrected their shooting woes. A free throw and layup from Ayanna Wilson, plus another Outlaw three-point shot got Bertie within three, 18-15.

But then things went cold again for the Lady Falcons: two minutes without scoring and five turnovers in seven trips up court. Bertie’s saving grace was that Cummings other front-liner also picked up a third foul allowing them to creep within five, 25-20, with the clock ticking away.

It was then that Wilson hit a three-pointer from near half-court just before the buzzer sounded and the Lady Falcons were only down a pair at the break.

The shot must’ve inspired the Lady Falcons because with Cummings plagued by foul trouble, Bertie worked the ball into Ya’Shanti Bridgers who scored Bertie’s first six points of the third quarter and the Lady Falcons recaptured the lead on her final layup, 29-27.

Bertie then opened up the running game. Cummings misses were converted into fast-break layups, two by Eboni Bond. A pair of Bond free throws gave Bertie an eight-point lead they upped to 10 in the next four minutes.

But as quickly as Bertie heated up, they cooled off, going four minutes without scoring. They opened the fourth quarter leading, 39-35, only to see Bridgers leave the game after getting a third foul.

Cummings exploited her absence with a pair of layups and a three pointer over the Bertie zone to retake the lead, 42-39, with five-and-a-half to play. Bridgers returned, but soon picked up a fourth, as did Perry, putting Cummings in the bonus.

Down four with four to play a LaToya Gilliam layup and a Wilson jumper tied the game at 45 at the 1:50 mark, but those would be the last field goals for Bertie on the night. Cummings then made 3-of-6 free throws to lead, 48-45.

After Bertie missed two shot attempts on the other end, Cummings made two more free throws and then stole the inbounds pass to sew up the win and send the Lady Cavs into the eastern title game.

“There was some panicking on our part,” sighed Lyons, “plus their big girls played smart in foul trouble.

“We couldn’t get the ball inside,” she added, “and we didn’t respond well to the pressure.”

Wilson led Bertie with 18 points, 14 in the first half. Bridgers closed out her career with nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds Fellow senior Bond had eight and three assists. The Lady Falcons end their season, 24-5.