Raider girls pull title game shocker

Published 11:26 am Tuesday, December 5, 2017

AHOSKIE – It took Pungo Christian Academy coach Melanie Sawyer 20 years to get her first-ever win over Ridgecroft on the Rams home floor, but she needed overtime to secure it.

The Lady Raiders shocked the Lady Rams in the varsity girls championship of the Lt. Nick Brantley Memorial Scholarship Tournament, 46-41 in OT as part of a game that was a nail-biter down to the final horn.

Ridgecroft School’s Reagan King (#14) drives past Pungo Christian’s Riley Cutler in the girls varsity championship game of the Lt. Nick Brantley Memorial Scholarship Tournament. The home team Lady Rams were upset by the Lady Raiders 46-41 in overtime. | Photos by William Anthony Photography

Reagan King opened the scoring in the contest for Ridgecroft with a jump shot, but then Pungo got back-to-back three-point plays: one on a single shot, the other came the old-fashioned way.  Six more points later and the Raiders were leading by 10 points, 12-2.  However, Brooke Rose found her outside shooting touch and nailed a pair of treys and the Rams’ 8-2 finish left them trailing only by four, 14-10, at the end of the first quarter.

Emma Wood Boone and Sydney Lane scored early for Ridgecroft in the second quarter and at the 6:05 mark the Rams had come back to tie the game at 14-all. But with so much physical play in the lane, both teams were soon marching to the free throw line.  The charity-stripe scoring helped Pungo push their lead back to four at 21-17 midway through the period.  Trailing by six, 23-17, Ridgecroft found the range again, slowly whittling away until Boone’s put back tied the game for the second time 25-25.  There was a lull in the scoring leading up to halftime before King was fouled and made one-of-two to secure Ridgecroft’s first lead since the opening bucket, 26-25, as the teams went to the locker room for the mid-break.

Ridgecroft padded their lead early in the third quarter, reaching as high as seven (32-25) and needing every bit of it as both teams experienced a scoring drought.  It was the same score for Ridgecroft before Pungo’s Ashley Spencer made one-of-two foul shots – the Raiders’ only points of the quarter – and left her team trailing 32-26 entering the final eight minutes of regulation.

A three-pointer and a put back got Pungo back within a point, 32-31. But the Rams were still able to keep the Raiders at bay through the first two minutes of the fourth quarter; that was until Lauren Kelly Ricks hit a short jump shot and Pungo re-took the lead, 34-33.  The lead see-sawed back and forth before Lane hit a short jump shot with 1:45 left in regulation to stake the Rams to a 37-36 lead. Neither team could gain a hand as the clock

Joyce Brantley, mother of Lt. Nick Brantley for whom the Memorial Scholarship Tournament is named, receives a hug from Ridgecroft’s Mandy Spence prior to the girls varsity championship game.

ticked down.  But King was called for a fifth foul chasing a loose ball. Pungo’s Emma Allen strode to the line and made the first of two free throws. After draining the second one it looked as if Pungo had secured the upset, but Allen was called for a lane violation and Ridgecroft’s buzzer-beater was short, so the game headed to overtime.

Ridgecroft took the first lead, but the Raiders answered to tie it at 39-all.  With each possession precious, Pungo’s Ashley Spencer drove the lane for a two-point lead for her team, 41-39.  On the trip up-court, Riley Cutler committed her fifth foul, but Olivia Daly could only make one-of-two from the line and the Rams were still down a point, 41-40.  Coach Sawyer called time out hoping to set up something inside, but instead Emily Spencer let fly a shot from behind the line that found nothing but net and with 26 seconds left, the Raiders had a four-point lead, 44-40. Off a missed Ridgecroft shot, Pungo raced up court for an easy lay-up and the lead became six with fewer than ten ticks left.  Rose’s late free throw made it a five-point margin of victory and the historic win for the Raiders.

“I didn’t design that (three-point) play, but it was just one of those shots that worked,” Sawyer revealed. “But I had told them all game, just keep shooting.”

Both teams resume TIC conference play this week. Ridgecroft has a visit to Lawrence tonight (Tuesday), while Pungo will host Hobgood Academy on Friday.

Varsity Girls All-Tournament Team:  Brooke Rose, Sydney Lane, Reagan King (Ridgecroft); Emily Spencer (MVP), Lauren Kelly Ricks, and Riley Cutler (Pungo).


Lauren Kelly Ricks-9, Emily Spencer-9, Riley Cutler-8, Emma Allen-8, Ashley Spencer-7, Rebecca Hodges-3, Brinson Edmondson-2.


Brooke Rose-14, Sydney Lane-11, Reagan King-6, Emma Wood Boone-6, Olivia Daly-3, Skylar Brown-1.