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Bertie ladies race to finals

AHOSKIE – Reports of their demise are very premature.

After losing out to Plymouth (now consolidated with Creswell to become Washington County ) High School a year ago, Bertie’s girl’s basketball team needed to re-assert their dominance in the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament.

How about taking down an undefeated team in the process?

Thanks to their running game, fueled by turnovers forced by their pressure defense, the Lady Falcons did that and scored a 53-37 win over previously undefeated Northampton County here Thursday afternoon, powering their way to another Classic final.

“Actually, it’s been so many I’ve lost count,” said one Bertie fan from the stands after the Jaguars’ game.

Akyia King led the way with 18 points, coupled with a strong game from freshman Bryona West (15 points).

“We played hard-D (defense),” said Falcons coach Kelvin Hayes. “We didn’t protect the ball sometimes, but overall we did a good job of penetrating.

Bertie opened not with their inside game, but with a strong presence on the perimeter. King dropped back-to-back three-point baskets, then drove to score and was fouled for ‘three-the-hard-way’ after making the accompanying free throw.  She scored her team’s first 11 points. Meanwhile, Northampton crashed the boards for offensive rebounds, earning several trips to the free throw line; but they missed their first six foul shots. Still, center Rashauna Grant took the scoring load in the low post (four points), while West finished for Bertie in the first quarter, leading to a 16-4 start at the horn.

Northampton scored four early in the second quarter to halve their deficit (16-8) before Bertie exploded for a 12-2 run, forcing not one, but two timeouts for the Jaguars. It was 28-10, Bertie, with under two and a half minutes until the mid-break before the Jags scored again; limping into half-time trailing 30-15.

As she had done in the previous game, Grant exerted herself in the third quarter with six of her team’s nine points. Meanwhile, Bertie began to spread their offense around, though they only outscored the Jags by a point in the quarter (10-to-9). It was 40-24 headed to the final eight minutes.

In the fourth, Dawaunti Combs, who’d sacrificed offense for defense and rebounding, began to take advantage of both open looks, and penetration to the basket; collecting four of her total six points.  The Falcons went to a stall offense down the stretch, or the final could’ve been much higher.

“I’s good to be back in the final,” added Hayes, “but to win it we can’t play like we did today.”

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY GIRLS (37)

Rashauna Grant-23, Rolando Williams-9, Ny’Asia Kee-Daye-4, Natyia Bradley-1.

BERTIE GIRLS  (53)

Akyia King-18, Bryona West-15, Jessica Stokes-10, Dawaunti Combs-6, Destiny Clark-2, Aleeyah Proctor-2.