Northeast will return to finals

Published 2:03 pm Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AHOSKIE – The varsity games of the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament got off to a rousing start as Northeast Academy and Lawrence Academy faced off.

In the end, Northeast pulled away to a 20-point, 42-22 win, spoiling the coaching debut of Lawrence’s new ladies bench boss, Michelle Campbell.

Ashton Liverman led the Lady Eagles with 16 points, eight in each half, while teammate Ivey Little had 11. Lawrence’s Hayden Thompson led all scorers with 17 for the Lady Warriors.

“They’re young,  four freshmen, a couple of juniors, and one senior,” said Northeast coach Joella Brown, “but they’re real scrappy.”

The signature part of Northeast’s game was their pressure defense, which forced Lawrence into numerous turnovers, several of which the Lady Eagles were able to easily convert into points.

“It’s not an excuse,” said Campbell, “but I don’t have any seniors and just one returning girl on varsity. Plus I’m a new coach so they’re still getting used to the way I do things.”

Thompson staked Lawrence to their only lead of the game, 3-2, on a free throw and a jump shot in the lane, but from there Northeast’s persistent defense was the call of the game.

Layups off turnovers accounted for three quick buckets for the Lady Eagles and they opened up a five-point lead at 8-3.

Thompson got another basket and two more from the charity stripe to pull Lawrence back within one, 8-7, but that was as close as they came the rest of the way.

Northeast closed the quarter with six straight points, four from Liverman on put-backs, and it was 14-7 after the first period.

The Lady Eagles opened the second quarter with a five-point run before Lawrence scored three at the line for a 19-10 deficit.

The Lady Warriors got their first field-goal of the quarter with three-and-a-half until the break and were within eight, but Brown called time-out to regroup her squad.

Hannah Roye got a baseline layup out of the time-out and, despite two more free throws, Lawrence was down, 22-14, at halftime.

Northeast turned up the pressure in the third quarter and went on a 5-1 run to stretch their lead. Thompson came back with two more quick buckets in the paint for the Lady Warriors and cut it to 29-19, but Northeast just kept up the pressure, now extended full-court, and scored six more to lead 35-19 with only the final eight minutes remaining.

The Lady Eagles didn’t stop despite their wide margin, and though it was a low-scoring fourth quarter, Northeast prevailed with the 20-point win, their first of the season.

“We don’t really have a pure shooter,” said Brown, “so this season will have to be hustle-and-scrap – gut check ball.  We didn’t really work on the press it was just something that worked for us, and maybe it will throughout the year.”

“One of our starters (Holly McNair) was out tonight,” said Campbell, “but that’s no excuse.  Overall I’m pleased, but we’ve got a lot to work on.”

Northeast advances to Friday’s girls championship game against Ridgecroft while Lawrence will play the early consolation contest against Bethel.

(By Gene Motley, Sports Writer)