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Lawrence ladies claim Baggett title

ASKEWVILLE – In the end, the only moisture were the tears of joy.

After condensation caused a damp floor that delayed the Eric Baggett Memorial Basketball Tournament’s championship games here Saturday for about an hour, the Lawrence Academy’s varsity girls basketball team went on to win their first-ever title.

The Lady Warriors downed fellow Tarheel Independent Conference member, Northeast Academy, 54-30, for the championship.

“In the end, our conditioning took over,” said second-year Lawrence coach Lee Hoffman. “We had turnovers in the first half, but settled down in the second half; these girls can run all day.”

They certainly ran their way to a title.

A Robyn Barnes left hook bank shot gave Northeast its only lead of the game in the opening minutes, 2-1.  From there, it was all Lawrence.  Maggie Daniels hit a jump shot to put Lawrence back in front, 3-2.  From there, the Warriors outscored the Lady Eagles, 9-4, to double the score after the first period, 12-6.

Despite a sloppy second quarter, in which both teams committed double-digits in turnovers, Lawrence was able to ramp up their defense and hold NEA almost scoreless.  Meanwhile, Kayla Hoffman and Sydney Brabble were the offensive engine for Lawrence, scoring four points each, as the Warriors built a 23-6 lead.  NEA finally got in the books for the quarter as Anna Liverman hit a ‘downtown’ three-pointer just before time expired and the Lawrence lead at the break was 23-9.

Lawrence’s ball-handling was much sharper in the second half beginning with the third quarter.  Northeast tried to use this frame to get back into the game.  Chelsea Rose took over on the offensive end for the Eagles, dropping a pair of long-range jump shots and getting a strong put back around a host of LAW defenders.  While the Warriors still stayed comfortably in front, Northeast was able to pare their opponent’s lead down to ten, 36-26, headed into the fourth quarter.

Once again, Lawrence ramped up their defense to secure the title.  Daniels scored six of the first eight points for the Lady Warriors and from there Northeast could no longer entertain hopes of catching up.  Taylor Wilson banked in a shot to give Lawrence a 20 point lead with under four minutes to play, 46-26.  Daniels got a field goal and another pair of foul shots to push the lead up to 26 at 52-26 before Haley Jilcott broke the Northeast drought when one of the Lady Eagles’ shots finally fell.  Daniels closed out the Lawrence scoring with a jump shot, but the Eagles got the last bucket to hold their final deficit to 24 points.

“Kayla couldn’t go inside because of our foul trouble,” said Coach Hoffman. “But we were able to run this one out.”

Elsewhere, Bethel made it a boy’s sweep as they downed Lawrence’s jayvee boys for the junior varsity boys crown.  Ridgecroft’s girls claimed the junior varsity title with their 21-19 win over Lawrence.  Brooke Rose had eight points and a blocked shot while Emma Wood Boone finished with six points.  Sydney Lane had five rebounds and a pair of steals in the jayvee championship game.

“I’m very proud of the girls,” said Ridgecroft jayvee coach Susan Oliver. “They never gave up.”

The Rev. Tommy Tripp, who served as Tournament Director for the event was satisfied with the huge crowds. The tournament is named for a former BACA student-athlete who died tragically in a vehicle crash in 2010.

“We were able to offer more scholarships this year, and our sponsorships are growing,” Tripp said.  “The loss of an only child who ‘never met a stranger’ and loved sports is the inspiration of loving parents dedicated in helping the future of area student-athletes in his honor.”