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Lady Knights run way from Lions

Posted: January 14, 2012 10:29 a.m.
Updated: January 16, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Like a thermometer, you can usually tell how well the North Central girls are playing based on the redness in the face of head coach Mitch Lowder.
For the first half of Friday’s 49-33 win over visiting Lewisville, Lowder’s face was its normal color. Having a 19-point lead will do that to a complexion. Minutes later, after the Lady Lions narrowed the gap to 11 points in the third quarter, Lowder’s face had turned a borderline crimson hue.
“I told our girls at halftime that (LHS) was going to make a run at us,” Lowder said. “The sign of a good team is making sure that we can handle it and throw the knockout punch when it happens.
“We took bad shots and we got lazy on defense. (Brittany Zoelle) and (Tierra Brown) are good ballplayers for them and when they get on a roll, they’re hard to stop. They hit a few shots but, luckily, we were able to control the ball at a few times and got some layups.”
The win was the third of the season for the Lady Knights, which evened their Region 3-A mark at 1-1. Lewisville, meanwhile, continues to search for its initial victory of the season.
On a night in which the hostesses needed a victory to build momentum for a conference campaign in which they should be a factor in the playoff chase, the Lady Knights answered a game-opening LHS basket with 10 straight points in which all five starters contributed, including the first of three 3-point jumpers on the night from sophomore guard Morgan Bass, who led all scorers with 17 points.
Bass would knock down another shot from beyond the arc before Brianna Brown added a pair of baskets as NC closed the first quarter with a 17-7 lead. A stickback from sophomore center Haley Thomas, who scored 13 points, and a 10-foot runner from Bass opened the second quarter as the NC lead mushroomed to 21-7.
By halftime, thanks to 10 points each from Bass and Brown and five from Thomas, the Lady Knights had built a comfortable, 29-14 cushion.
The Lady Knights switched up its zone sets in trying to make the Lady Lions have to beat them with the outside shot, all the while paying close attention to point guard Zoelle, who is also her team’s best outside shooter.
“We had three different zone defenses, along with a triangle and two, ready tonight,” Lowder said. “I thought we did a good job on defense in the first half; we got them out of their rhythm. But we got lazy on defense in the second half.”
Led by the play of Thomas under the boards, NC limited the guests to one shot as LHS did not have a second-chance basket on the night.
“We talked before the game about limiting them to one shot and, that’s what we did,” Lowder said. “Haley did a great job, again, tonight in rebounding. We just have to keep our people out of foul trouble, keep doing a good job of getting to our shots and getting rebounds.”
A Thomas stickback and an 18-foot jumper from Takeisha Joe kicked off the second half as NC’s lead grew to 33-14 in the opening 40 seconds of play. With the margin still at 19 points, at 35-16, Lewisville made its run in scoring six unanswered points to trim the deficit to 35-22. When Zoelle knocked down a trey as the buzzer sounded, the Lady Lions had cut it to 36-25.
A putback from NC point guard Elexis Ross opened the fourth quarter and pushed the lead to 13 points. When LHS guard Kyeisha Talford answered another Thomas putback with a short jumper, it made it an 11-point game again, at 42-31, with 2:16 left.
Bass would put this one away with a trey and then a basket from point-blank range to hike the score to 47-31 with just more than a minute left in the contest.
After a loss at McBee in Tuesday’s region opener, Lowder said this was a much-needed win and a shot of confidence for his team.
“That’s the best game that we’ve played in a while,” he said. “Everybody still controls their own destiny in our conference. We just have make sure that we go out and take care of things, one game at a time.”

LHS (33): Kadeija Feaster 3 0-2 6, Brittany Zoelle 4 0-0 11, Kadeija Robertson 2 0-0 4, Tierra Brown 2 4-6 8, Cierra Kirby 1 0-0 2, Kyeisha Talford 1 0-0 2. Totals: 13 4-8 33
NC (49): Takeisha Joe 1 2-2 4, Haley Thomas 5 3-6 13, Brianna Brown 4 2-2 10, Morgan Bass 7 0-0 17, Elexis Ross 2 0-2 4, Sheikee Drakeford 0 1-2 1. Totals: 19 8-14 49

Score by quarters: First: NC, 17-7; Halftime: NC, 29-14; Third: NC, 36-25; Three-point goals: LHS 3 (Zoelle 3), NC 3 (Bass 3)

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