Lady Bears finish first

Published 5:26 pm Monday, January 2, 2012

AHOSKIE – At last.

Hertford County High girls basketball coach Justin Frederes says that three years ago when he took over the program he set several goals.

Thursday night he accomplished one of the few left on his ‘Bucket List.’

His Lady Bears team defeated Pasquotank County High School 63-54 to claim the girls championship of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic basketball tournament sponsored by United Country Joe Murray Realty.

The Lady Panthers fought back from as much as an 11-point deficit to tie the game with just under five minutes remaining; but Hertford County kept their cool, regained the lead, and held off any more comebacks to claim their first title since 2002.

Brandie Burden – who was named ‘Most Valuable Player’ for the four-day event – tied for Hertford County scoring honors with 16 points, same as teammate, Camaryn Jones. Vanessa Mitchell had 15.

Both Jones amd Mitchell were named to the All-Tournament team.

Mikeara Jordan of Pasquotank, also on the All-Tournament team, led all scorers with 21 points – 14 in the first half – before fouling out.  Teammate Brianna Elliot was also in double-figures with 10.

“It’s a great feeling,” said a jubilant Frederes after the contest. “It’s something I knew meant a lot to the team, the community, and to myself; and it just feels great to bring the trophy back to Hertford County.”

The Lady Bears’ win broke an eight-year Bertie High stranglehold on the prize. The Lady Falcons finished third, winning Wednesday’s consolation game, 61-40.

But this was a ‘bear’ of a night for the home team ladies on their home court because the win also snapped Pasquotank’s 10-game unbeaten streak to open the season.

The game was tied twice early in the first quarter, the last time being 6-6 thanks to a layup by Jordan.

Hertford County came back and scored the next eight in a row on a pair of Burden free throws, a Jones layup and free throw, and a three-pointer by Deseree James to take a 14-6 lead.

The two teams played evenly the rest of the quarter and it looked like Pasquotank would only trail by six at the first break, but Kayla Everett hit a long-range three-pointer at the buzzer to give Hertford County a 21-12 lead after one period of play and stoke the mostly pro-Bear crowd.

Pasquotank scored five quick points to open the second quarter and only trail by four, 21-17, before Mitchell hit a free throw to break the string.

Another three-pointer by James made it 25-17, but Pasquotank went on another run, this time hitting for eight in a row to tie it at 25-all with under three minutes remaining until halftime.

Frederes called time-out for his girls to regroup and Hertford County responded by outscoring the Panthers 7-4 to claim a 32-29 bulge at the game’s midway point.

Mitchell scored a three-pointer right out of halftime followed by a Burden steal and layup, plus a pair of free throws from Jones and suddenly Hertford County had a 10-point lead, 39-29

Twice the Lady Bears got it up to their biggest lead, 11 points – the last time being 45-34 – before an 8-1 Pasquotank run ended the third quarter with the Elizabeth City girls trailing by just four, 46-42.

Jordan hit a jump shot right out of the break to get the Lady Panthers within a pair, 46-44; and after two Jones free throws Jordan fired in a long-range three-pointer from well beyond the arc to make it a one-point game, 48-47.

The run was costly, however, for the sophomore shooter as Jordan picked up her fourth foul. Still she continued her aggressive play and later followed up a missed layup to give Pasquotank its first lead, 51-50.

That would be Jordan’s final points of the game: she and Sherniece Futrell were going after a loose ball when Jordan was whistled for her fifth foul with 4:42 left in the contest.

It may’ve been the fatal blow for Pasquotank.

There were a couple more lead changes before Futrell got a baseline layup and Burden hit a pair of free throws to put the Lady Bears back in front to stay.

Pasquotank then turned the ball over and Burton converted it into a snowbird layup and a five-point Hertford County lead, 59-54.

Despite the Lady Panthers switching to a man-to-man defense they could not chase the Lady Bears and Hertford County salted away the win with four more points: two Burton free throws and a James layup for the final margin.

“We just lost our composure there at the end,” said a disappointed Pasquotank coach Janie Cofield.  “I told my girls that if you want to be champions you have to go all-out the whole game.”

“Brandie’s a heady player for us who makes good decisions,” said Frederes, “and we needed that out there.”

“Our girls just believe in our system and in ourselves,” he added, “and that’s what we need to be successful.”

Hertford County (7-4) won’t have long to celebrate this win over Pasquotank (10-1). The two teams will meet again in Ahoskie for their first rematch this Friday night (Jan. 6).