Lady Falcons hold off HCHS

Published 2:22 pm Monday, January 14, 2013

WINDSOR – Straight to the point.

The Bertie High girls basketball team overcame the absence of point guard La’Shai Richardson and still managed to turn back Hertford County Friday night at the BHS Gym, 48-41.

Instead of her usually cat-quick back-court, Lady Falcons coach  Alice Lyons relied on the inside play of her front-court and they delivered.

Bertie got a game-high 18 points from De’najah Brown, with 15 more coming from Shaunquisha Leary.  More importantly, the pair combined for 21 rebounds between them.

Leary also had four assists.

Tyessence Martin added 12 more rebounds to go with five points and a pair of steals.

Bertie owned the backboards on this night, grabbing 38 caroms to 19 for Hertford County.

Brandi Burden led Hertford County with 18 points, nine in each half. Teammate Kyara Rodgers had eight.

The win upped Bertie’s record to 10-2 and 2-1 in Northeastern Coastal Conference play.  Hertford County had their two-game win streak snapped and fell to 4-8, 3-2 in league play.

“We started out sluggish; with no legs, and a lot of that was because of the lay-off,” said Lyons, whose team had not played in nearly 13 days because of holiday break, a cancellation and a week of exams.

“At first they weren’t listening to me,” she said with a sly grin.  “But when they finally did we accomplished what I wanted.”

What she had to have wanted was a win in a game that featured eight ties and nine lead changes before Bertie finally seized control in the fourth quarter.

Chaquasja Veale and Richardson have been the engine of Lyons’ Falcon machine most of the season with their waterbug quickness igniting the pressure defense that’s led to outscoring their opponents in transition.

Friday, Hertford County tried to make that engine sputter.

Leary and Brown staked Bertie to a 4-0 lead before the Bears began to growl against the intense heat of Bertie’s gym.  Burden and Rodgers got back-to-back steals and layups to tie it

Burden then hit a pair of free throws and a layup off a Bertie miss allowing HCHS to double-up Bertie early, 8-4.  It would be 10-6, Bears, after one quarter.

In the second quarter Hertford County’s closely guarding man-to-man defense got Rodgers and Burden in foul trouble when both picked up their second three minutes in.

Bertie, meanwhile, went to work inside with Leary and Brown, and also began to rack up offensive rebounds. Leary got a baseline layup and then later rattled in a pair of free throws and suddenly the game was tied at 13-all.

With the game becoming more physical inside, six fouls whistled in the last minute of the half, the contest went back-and-forth at the charity stripe; so much so that things remained tied, 17-17, at the break.

Eight of the game’s lead changes came in the third quarter as the teams matched each other shot-for-shot – either with field goals or free throws.

With under a minute left in the quarter Rodgers banked in a shot making it 26-25, Hertford County.  Brown then countering that with a layup for Bertie and then the Falcons got two easy layups for Veale off Bears misses.

The tight contest entered the final eight minutes with Bertie nursing a three-point, 31-28 lead.

It never got better for the Lady Bears in the fourth period.

Brown got Bertie’s first seven points, igniting a 7-2 Bertie run to give the Falcons some cushion. When Martin tipped in a miss, later, Bertie had a 10-point lead, 40-30.

Hertford County tried to cash in with shots beyond the arc, but they wouldn’t fall.  Added to the Bears’ cold-shooting woes were foul calls underneath on those missed shots.

Bertie got only one more field goal the final four minutes of the game: Veale tapped one in after a missed free throw.  The game ended with the Falcons hitting only 4-of-11 foul shots down the stretch but it was enough for the seven-point win.

“We just got out-rebounded,” said HCHS coach Sha’Tesia Sharpe. “Bertie played well on the offensive boards.  We got good looks for shots, they just didn’t fall.

“This is not a setback,” she said, defiantly.