Lady Falcons upset Northeastern

Published 12:33 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WINDSOR – This one was huge.

After seeking a breakout win all year, Bertie High’s girls basketball team claimed one at home Tuesday night.

The Lady Falcons handed Northeastern Coastal Conference rival, Northeastern, it’s first conference loss of the year in Windsor when Bertie took a 52-49 win.

Backcourt play was the key for Bertie as Zekkeya Morris lit up the Lady Eagles to the tune of 27 points to lead all scorers with 19 of her points coming in the second half. Teammate Chaquasja Veale added 13.

Jasmine Nixon led Northeastern with 14 points while Sha’Niqua Gray had 13.

While Northeastern won the battle on the backboards, 40-38, the Eagles had no answer to stopping Morris down the stretch as the flashy senior point guard scored all but six of Bertie’s final 18 points.

“She’s learning how to control the tempo of ball games,” said Bertie coach Joan McCullough. “She’s learning how to play keep-away very well and to make better decisions, even when she doesn’t have the ball.”

That was best exemplified with a minute left in the game and Bertie leading by two points with Morris double-teamed on the left wing.

Rather than attempt to dribble and drive her way through the Eagle defenders she alertly spotted teammate Deanna Brown on the baseline and fired a pin-point pass to her for the layup that helped preserve the Falcon lead.

“We’ve been on the up-and-up lately, anyway,” added McCullough. “Our record has been improving and this win has helped set the tone for the remainder of the conference for us.”

The game began slowly for both teams with neither able to establish itself or its offense. Morris was zoned for much of the first quarter but managed to find teammates in the low-post.

Late in the quarter McCullough turned up the pressure defense leading to turnovers and Bertie seized control, taking its second biggest lead of the game after the first eight minutes, 11-6.

Things opened up inside for Bertie to start the second quarter as Brown and Shadequah Leary scored layups underneath and Bertie took its biggest lead, 15-8.

But Nixon and Gray turned up their defense and rebounding for Northeastern and the Eagles had a 6-0 run to get within a point, 15-14.

But Tenethia Cherry hit a big three-pointer for Bertie to make it, 18-14, and the two teams played evenly – four points apiece – up to the break, where Bertie led, 22-18 at halftime.

More offense came through for both teams in the third quarter where the two clubs scored 26 points between them.

Bertie began to foul defending in the paint and Northeastern made 4-of-6 free throws.  It helped keep the Eagles close and the quarter ended with Bertie leading by just a pair, 34-32.

Morris opened the fourth quarter with a pair of jump shots on the wing to up the Falcon lead to six, 38-32.  Te’a Moore-Carver broke the string with a layup before Northeastern coach Pat Thornton called a timeout.

Coming out of the break it was Bertie who responded with a three-pointer from Veale.

Northeastern answered with a couple of layups as Cherry picked up two quick fouls for Bertie; the last one leading to a pair of Northeastern free-throws that got the Eagles within one, 41-40.

Morris then hit a jump shot for a three-point lead, but Moore-Carver scored down low and was fouled.  Her made free throw tied the score at 43-all with just over a minute and a half to play.

Morris drove the lane and scored on Bertie’s next possession for a two-point lead with a minute to play.

That’s when Morris’ command of the game really showed; first with the assist to Brown and then with a pair of free throws to make it 50-46, Bertie, and just 15 ticks left on the clock.

Eleven seconds were left when Taylor Jernigan launched a three-pointer that found the mark and made it a one-point game again, 50-49.

But Morris was fouled and sank her final pair of charity tosses with four seconds left to seal the win and send Northeastern (12-3, 7-1, NCC) to its first loss in league play.