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Panthers gun down Red Barons

AHOSKIE – Mauricia Wrighton scored 17 of her 20 points in the first half and that helped power Washington County (formerly Plymouth High School) to a 70-27 win over Gates County in the first round of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament here Wednesday night.

Ten Lady Panthers etched names in the scorebook with the 43-point victory, the team’s second on the young season. Three of those scorers, including Wrighton, were in double figures.  No Gates County player scored more than eight.

Wrighton opened with a power move in the low post for the game’s first points. Gates answered with Jaliyah Riddick hitting a long three-point basket for what would be the Red Barons’ only lead of the night.  A Shamyah Mays free throw tied the game at 3-all before Washington County went on a 16-2 run to end the first quarter and stake the club to a 19-5 lead.

Janeja Perry opened the second quarter with a three-point play the old-fashioned way: field goal and a foul shot.  Her effort was the beginning of a remarkable 27-2 run Washington County made, as the Baroness’ had no answer for the cat-quick Panthers and were soon staring up from a 44-7 hole.  Audriana Hathaway finally broke the Gates drought, but the women in red were still behind by 35 points. Hathaway made one more bucket before the halftime horn sounded to get her team into double figures, but Washington County still held a comfortable lead at halftime, 48-11.

Two minutes into the third quarter and Coach Angela Boston began to clear her bench, for which some of the younger Panther cubs were certainly grateful.  Trailing by 42 points – 58-16 – Gates finally scored back-to-back buckets, but Washington County answered with four more points of their own as the game went to the fourth quarter, still with that 42-point advantage.

Eight points to open the final frame staked Washington County to their largest lead of the night: 70-20. Gates County shaved seven points off that total in the end thanks to the Panthers’ gracious sense of sportsmanship.  The two schools will see each other at least two more times this season as both reside in the 1A Albemarle Atlantic Conference.

Washington County will get a chance to claim the school’s first tournament title if they score two more wins.  Meanwhile, the upperclassmen girls remember that the former Plymouth High School was in the title game last season. I guess that cancels this one as a ‘repeat’; but they’d still love to hang their first championship banner.

GATES COUNTY GIRLS (27)

Cailyn Nowell-8, Jaliyah Riddick-6, Audriana Hathaway-4, Ariana Matthews-3, Elizabeth Taylor-2, Imani Dent-2, Kelis Brinkley-2.

WASHINGTON COUNTY GIRLS (70)

Mauricia Wrighton-20, Janeja Perry-12, Lindsay Stallings-11, Zy’Asia Carter-8, Shamyah Mays-6, Mauresha Blount-4, Romaine Perry-3, Charley Cabarras-2, Jynique Norman-2, Priscilla Smith-2.