Lady Barons use fourth quarter rally to upend HCHS

Published 10:17 am Friday, December 29, 2023

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AHOSKIE – When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

Gates County’s London Barber (left) battles a Hertford County player for control of the ball during Thursday’s semifinal round of the RC News-Herald Holiday Classic. Photo by William Anthony

Semiyh Saunders scored 12 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, rallying Gates County High School’s Lady Barons to a 48-38 win over host Hertford County in the semifinals of the News-Herald Holiday Classic here Thursday night.

With the win, Gates County (8-1 overall) advanced to Friday’s Holiday Classic championship game where they will face defending champion Northeastern High School.

But before taking that giant step forward, Gates first had to overcome a six-point, fourth quarter deficit.

Leading 32-30 at the end of the third quarter, Hertford County seemed poised to advance to the finals when Brooklyn White and Jaliyah Mitchell opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets that staked the Lady Bears to a 36-30 lead.

The Lady Barons trimmed that deficit to 36-34 thanks to a hoop from Zebriya Woodley plus a pair of free throws by Saunders.

On Gates County’s next possession, Saunders tracked down a long rebound, turned and fired in a three-pointer that gave her team their first lead (37-36) since the second quarter. Saunders followed that by making one of two free throws on her team’s next possession. However, Hertford County’s Sophia Howard sank a basket to tie the game at 38-38 with 2:18 remaining.

That’s where Saunders took complete control of the contest. She connected on two baskets, sandwiched around a free throw from teammate Kyndall Banks, and then scored again from the field, staking the Lady Barons to a 45-38 lead with 23 seconds left in the contest.

Despite sloppy play by both teams in the first quarter (a combined 28 turnovers), Hertford County managed to build a 7-1 lead punctuated by Adarielle Townsell’s steal and lay-up at the midway mark of the period.

Gates County answered with a 6-0 run sparked by three free throws from Woodley, a basket by London Barber, and a charity toss from Camiya Ridduck that tied the game at 7-7.

Townsell accounted for the final points of the period, sinking one of two free throws and then adding a steal and lay-up with 11 seconds left that gave the Lady Bears a 10-7 cushion.

After Gates County’s Zariah Rogers banked in a three-pointer from the left wing to tie the game at 10-10 early in the second quarter, Hertford County reeled off eight of the game’s next 11 points to take an 18-13 lead. White and Howard highlighted that surge with a three-pointer each.

The Lady Barons answered with a 9-1 run that resulted in a 22-19 advantage. Saunders tallied five of those nine points by sinking a deuce and a trey while Banks and Barber each added a basket.

HCHS responded, closing out the first half with a three-pointer and a deuce by Mitchell that staked the Lady Bears to a 24-22 lead at the break.

A three-ball by Mitchell from the left corner and a pair of Townsell free throws allowed the Lady Bears to build a 29-24 lead just before the midway mark of the third quarter. That lead grew as high as six (32-26) when White buried a three-pointer, but Gates closed the period with back-to-back baskets from Riddick and Saunders to whittle their deficit down to two points (32-30) entering the fourth quarter.

Lady Barons (48)

Semiyah Saunders – 24, London Barber – 7, Zebriya Woodley – 5, Kyndall Banks – 4, Camiya Riddick – 3, Zarish Rogers – 3, Malana Jordan – 2.


Lady Bears (38)

Jaliyah Mitchell – 10, Brooklynn White – 10, Adarielle Townsell – 8, Sophia Howard – 5, Karae Alfred – 2, Acasia Weaver – 2, Micaya Moore – 1.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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