Mission Accomplished

Published 3:50 pm Sunday, February 18, 2024

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AHOSKIE – Exactly one year ago, Ahoskie Christian School’s varsity girls basketball team stood at the doorway of the Mid-Atlantic Christian Athletic Association’s (MACAA) championship, but fell just short of a title.

This year, Ahoskie Christian kicked the door down.

With an offensive firing on all cylinders coupled with a smothering defense, Ahoskie Christian capped off a school record 30-win season here Saturday afternoon with a dominant 65-39 win over Mt. Calvary Christian Academy in the MACAA’s Class 1A title game.

“We had two close games against Mt. Calvary (55-46 and 66-58) during the regular season,” said ACS head coach Kelly Perry. “I felt like if we came in today’s game with the same intensity we’ve had since this tournament began on Thursday that we could win this thing. We got on them pretty good early on and we didn’t let up.”

Despite a strong opening quarter from Morgan Wadsworth, who was later named the Tournament MVP with a 33-point effort, and a clutch three-pointer by Layla Farmer, ACS only led by seven points (15-8). But that narrow lead grew to nearly 20 points by halftime, and ACS showed its offensive balance in the process as Wadsworth only scored a pair of baskets in the second period.

Lacey Berryman sparked ACS in that period, scoring seven of her nine points while Lilly Lassiter added two baskets. Carly Piland established her presence down in the paint, connecting on back-to-back short-range jumpers that staked ACS to their first 20-point plus lead (27-15) at the 3:03 mark of the quarter. Later, with the clock winding down to under five seconds, Piland drained a three-pointer that handed ACS a 37-19 halftime lead.

“Our girls are so unselfish when it comes to working the ball around and finding the one with the open shot,” Perry noted. “Sure, we’ve got Morgan (the school’s career scoring leader with over 2,100 points), but this team is so much more than one player. Plus we have a deep bench. If someone isn’t playing well or gets in foul trouble, I have other players ready to step right end.”

Mt. Calvary’s Hannah Rice and Holly Jo Brick kept their team within striking distance, getting as close as 14 (45-31) late in the third quarter. However, ACS closed the period with a 5-2 run highlighted by a basket from Lassiter and three free throws by Wadsworth.

Wadsworth put an exclamation mark on her career by scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter before being taken out of the game, to a standing ovation from the crowd and a big hug from coach Perry, with less than two minutes remaining.

Coach Perry got a bit teary-eyed when talking about the journey this group of current seniors – Farmer, Piland, Wadsworth, and McKenna Perry – endured to reach the pinnacle of success.

“These seniors mean the world to me,” he said. “At the end of last year when we lost in the championship game against Victory [Christian] by five points, I knew we had something special coming into this season. They kept working hard; they wanted that [first place] trophy and they went out and got it. They were locked in all season, averaging around 60 points a game on offense while getting in your face on defense.

“But I can’t forget my underclassmen – Lacey (Berryman). Lilly (Lassiter), Mara (White), and Kaylee – who picked up the pace and made a big impact on this year’s team,” Perry added. “They know how to work, they know what I expect, they know how to win.”

Ahoskie Christian (30-1 overall) has one final event in which to participate. As the league’s Class 1A champion, Ahoskie Christian has been invited to the MACAA Class 2A championship tournament set for Feb. 22-24 at Campbell University.

“We’ve won the tournament we wanted, this one in our classification,” stressed Perry. “That was our main goal and we reached that goal. Now we’ll see how we stack up against some larger schools. It’s pretty cool for our girls to have an opportunity to play in the gym of a [NCAA] Division 1 university.”


Ahoskie Christian (65)

Morgan Wadsworth – 33, Lacey Berryman – 9, Carly Piland – 9, Lilly Lassiter – 8, Layla Farmer – 5, Kaylee Jones – 1.


Mt. Calvary (39)

Hannah Rice – 16, Holly Jo Brick – 12, Bailey Wade – 9, Riley Tuten – 2.


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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