Ridgecroft ‘D’ is dominant

Published 1:59 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2012

AHOSKIE – One great offensive performance and an equal defensive showcase.

Mary-joe Harrell poured in 20 points to pace Ridgecroft School offensively. On the defensive end, Lauren Colson was equally stellar with 15 rebounds. The result was the two prep standouts leading Ridgecroft School to an easy 41-26 victory over Bethel Christian Academy here Tuesday.

“I think they played great,” Ridgecroft Head Coach Susan Oliver said. “We came out without Hennie (Larabee) and made adjustments. We had people playing in places they don’t normally play and they played well.

“Mary-joe came out and shot the ball extremely well,” she added. “She gave us an offensive boost. Lauren had 15 rebounds, 12 of which were on the defensive end, and I think that was key. She boxed out Jessica (Howerton) and didn’t let her have second and third shots like she did the last time we played them.”

Both teams struggled to find their shot in the first quarter with neither team able to score from the floor until the 6:11 mark when Harrell buried the first of her five three-pointers on the night to put the Rams up 4-0.

Miller Bryant then hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line to push the home team’s lead to 5-0.

Alyssa Fairless came in off the bench to score Bethel’s first points on a putback with 2:40 left on the first half clock.

Harrell, however, scored again from behind the arc before Bryant and Bethel’s Kelsie Conner exchanged hoops to leave Ridgecroft ahead 10-4.

Lady Eagles’ senior Charitee Dunlow closed the gap to 10-7 with a three-point play to end the first period.

Howerton scored to open the second quarter and get Bethel within 10-9, but Bryant scored moments later. Conner then came back with a basket to get the Eagles within one point.

Harrell and Bethel’s Elizabeth Farmer then exchanged three-pointers to make it 15-14 in favor of the home team.

The squads continued to go back and forth until Dunlow scored with 12 ticks left on the first half clock to give Bethel an 18-17 lead going into halftime.

Both teams controlled the game on its defensive end of the floor through much of the third quarter with the game tied at 24-all with just over a minute and a half to play.

Colson, however, scored twice from the charity stripe and Harrell hit again from three-point land to push Ridgecroft ahead 29-24 heading into the fourth quarter.

In that final period, the Lady Rams’ defense controlled the contest as they allowed only two points for the Eagles during the entire frame. That was a Dunlow hoop with 1:41 to play.

The game was already decided by that point, however, as the Rams had rolled off 10 unanswered points.

Harrell opened the quarter with a field goal and then Katie Blowe completed a three-point play to make it 34-24 in favor of the Rams.

Bryant added to that lead by hitting both ends of a 1-plus-1 and then Harrell hit her fifth and final three-pointer to give Ridgecroft a 39-26 lead.

Dunlow scored to stop the spurt, but Colson added another pair of free throw before the game was over to lift Ridgecroft to the non-conference win.

In addition to Harrell’s standout night, the Rams got nine from Bryant, seven from Colson and three from Blowe. Dunlow paced Bethel with seven followed by six each from Howerton and Conner. Farmer added five and Fairless had two.

Ridgecroft will be back in action Thursday when the Rams step back into Tarheel Independent Conference play on the road at Pungo Christian Academy. The Eagles will travel to Jacksonville Christian on Friday.