Lady Falcons start league play

Published 4:18 pm Monday, December 12, 2011

WINDSOR – Yes, sometimes it is, as she said, just like riding a bike, you never forget how to win.

After years away from being the top coach of a girls basketball team, Joan McCullough returns to the head chair this year.

Following a successful stint at Hertford County High School – and two years as an assistant – she now takes over for the retired Alice Lyons at Bertie High School.

Friday night she posted the first victory of her return, a 60-36 Northeastern Coastal Conference triumph over First Flight.

The win left the Lady Falcons at 1-1.

Zekkeya Morris paced the home team with 18 points while Shadequa Battle poured in 10. Shanquisha Leary nearly hit the double-figure mark as she had eight.

Marykate Davidson led the First Flight Lady Nighthawks with 11.

Bertie used the first quarter to race out to a 10-point lead and then salted the game away in the third quarter with another big offensive explosion en route to their first win of the season after dropping their season opener to J.H. Rose.

“We’ve had nothing but time on our hands with two weeks off between games,” said the jubilant McCullough afterward, “and I think the girls came out and fought hard.

“They worked on executing the things we’ve worked on in practice,” she added, “and that’s all I can ask.”

With a smothering pressure defense Bertie forced numerous early turnovers which they converted into fast-break layups on their end and were up 15-5 after the first eight minutes of play.

It ballooned to a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter thanks to their outside shooting.

Tenethia Cherry’s jump shot in the first two minutes of the frame put the Lady Falcons ahead, 19-5; and after each team exchanged baskets, Cherry brought the crowd to their feet with a rainbow three-point shot to make it 24-9, Bertie.

However, the Lady Nighthawks found their offensive groove after that and outscored Bertie 7-4 the rest of the way until halftime and the two teams went into the locker room with the Lady Falcons on top by a dozen, 28-16.

Coming out after the break Bertie opened with a 7-0 run thanks to a couple of free throws, a Dyleeza Warren layup and a three-pointer from Chaquasja Veale.

After First Flight scored the game became the Zekkeya Morris Show as the senior shooting guard scored a dozen of Bertie’s next 18 points.

Morris fired in a pair of three-pointers from beyond the arc, lead the fast break after three turnovers and finished her run with a layup off a steal.

Bertie’s defense held First Flight to just nine points for the quarter which finished with the home team ahead, 53-27.

With the huge lead, McCullough began to clear her bench with everyone getting some court time.  Bertie’s biggest lead, 30 points, came with three minutes left in the game when a Battle jump shot made the score, 57-27.

Other than poor free-throw shooting (1-of-5) down the stretch, the Lady Falcons secured at least a tie for first place after the first weekend of league play with their 24-point win.

“We’re good in transition basketball,” said McCullough, “particularly on defense because we love to get a lot of steals and turn them into layups, even though we missed a lot of those buckets tonight.

“Coach Lyons left quite a legacy,” she added with a sly grin, “and while a lot of people are gunning for my head, hopefully this team can shock the world.”